The Kennewick City Council is poised to join a Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District.
Details of how Richland, Pasco and Kennewick would become partners in a regional effort to build large community facilities such as an aquatics or performing arts center were revealed during Tuesday's council workshop.
"This is an opportunity that is also a challenge. All three cities must cooperate," said Councilman John Hubbard, a Kennewick representative to the regional facilities oversight committee who likes the idea.
"The bylaws and regional agreement look good to me," said Councilman Don Britain, Kennewick's other member on the committee.
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Matt Watkins, mayor of Pasco and chairman of the regional facilities oversight committee, told the Kennewick council members it took four years for the three cities to work through all the issues, but the goal of having a regional public facilities district is within reach.
"We've outlined the agreement and we (want the city) to adopt it," Watkins said.
The proposed agreement would have each city represented by two council members and one representative of each city's public facilities district. The nine-member governing board would make decisions about developing a regional facility.
But nothing can happen until voters in all three cities decide if they will support paying additional sales taxes to support a regional public facilities district project.
"If the public gets to decide what kind of project (it) wants, I'll be happy to support this," said Councilman Bob Parks.
Bob Hammond, city manager, said the council can expect to consider supporting the proposed regional public facilities district idea at its July 20 meeting.
Earlier Tuesday, six members of the Regional Facilities Oversight Committee met with the Herald editorial board to discuss the group's recommendations for how to build a regional project.
Watkins said the committee believes a Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District would be the best way to finance and manage such projects.
The 12-member study committee's proposal includes draft bylaws and an interlocal agreement that would commit the three cities to the regional concept, Watkins said.
The district's administrative expenses would be capped at an estimated $50,000 a year, to be shared by the cities until a project goes to the voters.
"An aquatic facility is the top of the list," probably with a covered Olympic-size, year-round pool, Watkins said.
The site choice would be part of the package submitted to voters, who would decide whether to approve new sales tax revenues to pay for it, he said.
* John Trumbo: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org