Guest Opinions

Facilities need regional plan

Aerial view of the Tri-Cities
Aerial view of the Tri-Cities Tri-City Herald

Has Pasco explained to you what affect there will be of using the Pasco City Public Facilities District instead of the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District to fund construction of the aquatics center?

One affect is that just one project gets built in the Tri-Cities with Pasco’s approach rather than multiple projects being done throughout the Tri-Cities with the Tri-Cities Regional PFD. One of these projects is a regional performing arts facility.

Another consideration is that Pasco’s sales tax rate will go up even higher rather than having a uniform sales tax levied throughout the Tri-Cities.

The Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District was designed to build multiple projects throughout the Tri-Cities with a single area-wide voter-approved sales tax.

Back in 2008 Pasco advocated the formation of the Tri-Cities Regional PFD and the other cities went along with it.

Pasco took the initiative in 2009 to have a bill introduced in the Legislature that would allow the formation of the Tri-Cities Regional PFD. Unfortunately, certain provisions were in the bill that prevented the Tri-Cities Regional PFD Board of Directors from operating as initially envisioned.

It’s unfortunate that the Board could not think outside the box, and change the state law so as to allow the regional PFD to function.

With the single voter-approved sales tax, and a capital project plan embraced by the Board and the community, there is sufficient regional base to support three projects now, and three more projects in twenty years when the first revenue bond is paid off.

Pasco’s current approach seems to envision only one project — the aquatics center.

Over three years ago Pasco officials seem to have made the decision that they wanted to go the route of using their City PFD. Instead of trying to fix the Tri-Cities Regional PFD so that it could function — say for example by changing state law to remove the clauses that created the gridlock, Pasco proceeded to have Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, introduce legislation that would allow the Pasco City PFD to include an aquatics center.

A real slap in the face of the Tri-Cities Regional PFD Board as the Pasco Mayor Pro Tem is also Vice-Chairman of the Regional PFD. Craig Maloney told the Senate Local Government Committee that Pasco preferred the City PFD option. Really? Why then did Pasco lobby the state Legislature 10 years ago to change state law to allow the formation of the Tri-Cities Regional PFD?

There are important questions the Pasco voters need to be asking their City and the Pasco PFD.

So, the issue is up to the voters in Pasco if a tax request for an aquatics center is ever put on the ballot.

Do you raise the sales tax in Pasco even higher just to get an aquatics center, or do you VOTE NO so that the cities/citizens can fix what’s wrong with the TC Regional PFD so it can work to build multiple facilities in all three cities for the benefit of all?

Vic Epperly and his wife have lived in Kennewick since 1972. He is retired from Battelle, where he worked for 32 years as a facilities engineer. In the 1980s, he served on the Kennewick City Council and was mayor of Kennewick in 1986-87.