House committee told Klippert’s public facilities bill would pool resources to benefit local communities

Measure would provide for development of local projects

Rep. Brad Klippert told the House Community and Economic Development and Trade Committee in Olympia today a bill he has proposed would allow the cities of Pasco, Richland and Kennewick to collectively pool resources for construction of public projects.

Klippert, R-Kennewick, is the prime-sponsor of House Bill 1377, which would allow multiple jurisdictions to form a single public facilities district (PFD) to pay for regional projects. A public facilities district allows a city or county government to use a variety of tax options to fund regional facilities.

“In the Tri-Cities, we have Richland, Kennewick and Pasco — three separate PFDs which are each sovereign unto themselves, but are unable to pool their resources to build a project that would benefit the region. If the project is so big that not one of those PFDs could afford it with their tax base, it can't be done,” Klippert told the committee.

“We now have a great convention center built as a result of a public facilities district that was led by the city of Kennewick with Pasco's participation. Thinking farther in the future, the community has been asking for more regional facilities,” said Pasco City Councilman Matt Watkins.

Watkins said a joint study was conducted in 2006 which came up with a list of 18 potential projects which could be funded by a “super PFD” that includes participation of the three cities. Topping that list would be a regional aquatics center and a performing arts center.

“When we went about whether we could do these projects with all three cities, we learned from the attorney general's office that because we have existing PFDs, we could not form a singular PFD for the larger regional projects,” added Watkins.

“With this concept, it can all come together as one super PFD. None of the cities lose their sovereignty and none of them are obligated to join the super PFD. It is simply an opportunity to come together as a group and pool resources to accomplish a goal that they couldn't do individually,” added Klippert.

If the bill is approved, and the municipalities from the Tri-Cities form an overall PFD, up to three representatives from each city's individual PFD could be appointed to serve on a super public facilities district board.

“If the board saw a project that could benefit the entire region, it would let the voters decide whether to increase the sales tax by up to two-tenths of one percent to fund the project,” noted Klippert. “By pooling resources, everybody wins.”

“This would not change any of the taxing authority. If we were to do a regional facility, it would still be from the total of two-tenths of one percent sales tax for the local area,” said Watkins.

The bill adds recreational facilities, such as a regional aquatic center, to the definition of a “regional center.”

“It gets cold in the Tri-Cities during the fall. We have some great swim teams in our schools. Those kids are competing on swim teams in the late fall, standing there freezing, while preparing to compete in an outdoor pool. A regional aquatic center would alleviate that problem and allow those kids to compete indoors throughout the year,” said Klippert.

The committee is expected to take action on the bill at a later date.


Washington State House Republican Communications