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Why Is Regional Aquatic Center Failing to Pass? Our Take

Regional Aquatic Center
(Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District)

As of late Tuesday night, the Tri-Cities Regional Aquatic Center proposal was failing. What could be some of the reasons?

According to election officials, the proposal put forth by the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District to build a multi-use aquatic center near Road 100 in Pasco had 45 percent yes votes, and 55 percent no.

10,391 voters approved it, with 12,567 saying no, a difference of 2,176 votes.   There are approximately 1,200 ballots left to count in Pasco-Franklin County, and 5,000 in Kennewick-Richland-Benton County.

According to election officials the proposal had about a 57 percent approval rating within the Pasco city limits, but in Kennewick and Richland only 41 percent approved.

If that current approval trend continues for the remaining 6,200 ballots, it would widen the deficit by about 632 votes, especially since the bulk of the votes left are from Benton.

Based on our information, input from listeners, and others in the community, these could be some of the reasons why the project is not passing at this time.

  • While Pasco vigorously backed the plan, the further away you get geographically, the more the support dwindles. Some citizens in outer areas of Benton County told Newstalk 870 they preferred a facility more centrally located.
  • Taxes. Opponents questioned the language in the measure and claimed the 1/10 of 1% sales tax did not have an expiration date, and appeared to be permanent.
  • Economic issues. Other opponents and citizens believed, especially with a tougher economy, that tax dollars should not be spent on such facilities. The project should be undertaken by the private sector.
  • A small percentage of Newstalk listeners we talked to said they would prefer a plan to build three smaller, cheaper aquatic centers in each of the three cities. They felt these would actually draw more people from each community, and alleviate congestion they felt would occur at the Road 100 facility.

More results are expected to be released today. Supporters of the center were surprised by the initial results, as several years of research and inquiry had shown the Tri-Cities felt such a project was long overdue. It appears while they like the idea, perhaps they differ on the approach of where to build it, and how it should be paid for.

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