If Pasco decides to back an aquatic center, it could be 2018 before voters see the proposed project on a ballot.
Officials advised the Pasco Public Facilities District board on Wednesday that timing is an issue.
While the board may be able to get a proposal finalized and the green light from the Pasco City Council in eight months, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to bring it to the public in that time frame, said Rick Terway, Pasco’s administrative & community services director.
He said the city may want to wait one to two years just because it needs to consider other issues before Pasco voters, like a school bond, levies and even city council elections.
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Mark Morrissette, president of the PFD board, said he thinks they won’t be ready to make a presentation to the council until late spring or summer, especially since they first must see if the Legislature fixes the state law on city public facilities districts this session.
City Attorney Leland Kerr added that the city is looking at “an unusual election year” with all seven council seats up for grabs, and it may be a good idea to hold the aquatic center issue until early 2018.
The Pasco PFD started floating the idea of a large aquatic facility and an indoor recreation center last year after hiring a firm to do a feasibility study.
Board members decided it was worth revisiting the topic after a 2013 effort for a regional aquatic facility and water park was supported by Pasco voters. The ballot measure tanked in Kennewick and Richland.
Similar to that 2013 proposal, this project would likely be built in west Pasco and marketed as a regional center. Though it is a Pasco PFD project, it ultimately is up to the city council to ask Pasco voters to support a tax-subsidized public facility.
PFD board members met Wednesday for nearly 2 1/2 hours with Nolvia Salinas and Jason Ruud of the Park & Recreation Advisory Board and city council members Rebecca Francik, Chi Flores and Mayor Matt Watkins.
The current project option would cost $26 million and include outdoor and indoor aquatics, a fitness room, track, middle school-sized gym, babysitting space and a community room.
PFD member Craig Maloney said the focus all along has been for a water park, and suggested dropping the fitness space so it doesn’t compete with private health clubs. Ruud added that they could replace it with another gym to give more room for shooting hoops or other activities.
The maximum debt that the public facilities district can incur for a facility is $20 million. Voters would need to approve an increase in the city sales tax. That standard for approval is 50 percent.
The city then could consider a general obligation bond to cover any costs above $20 million, and add additional city projects to the package. A bond vote, which affects property taxes, requires 60-percent approval.