Regional PFD board prepares to push for aquatic center bond

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJune 12, 2013 

Expect to see members of the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District Board at community meetings -- from chamber of commerce gatherings to Rotary sessions -- as the August election nears.

The board is proposing a one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase in Richland, Pasco and Kennewick to pay for a regional aquatics facility and water park, and board members talked Wednesday about how they'll spread the word.

They can't advocate for passage of the measure, but can provide factual information about the proposed project, such as cost estimates.

In addition to visiting the community meetings, the board will send an informational mailer to households in the three cities with a registered voter. Board members Wednesday -- without Steve Young and John Fox, who were absent -- approved the mailer, with the caveat that the board's attorney will give it a final review.

The estimated cost, including printing, handling and postage, is just less than $25,000.

Matt Watkins, board president, noted the regional board also has a website, at tcpfd.org, with more details about the proposal. "Anyone who wants information should easily be able to find information," he told the Herald.

The sales tax increase would add one penny to a $10 purchase, generating an estimated $3.35 million annually across the three cities.

The money would be used to pay back bond debt incurred to build the regional aquatics attraction. It also will go toward administrative and equipment replacement costs, as well as operations if needed.

The aquatics facility and water park is to have indoor and outdoor elements, with a conceptual design that includes a competition pool, slides, river channels and a surf simulator, among other features. The facility is planned for land off Sandifur Parkway in west Pasco.

The sales tax measure requires approval from a majority of the total number of voters in Richland, Pasco and Kennewick.

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