A bill that would allow for construction of a regional sports complex in Chelan and Douglas counties is moving through the state legislature.

The measure allows for the creation of a special taxing district to finance the complex in areas that already have one such tax district that supports a separate project.

Republican Representative Keith Goehner of Dryden amended the bill this week to make sure it does not force cities already in the first district to become part of the second one. "Members of the first district that did not want to be part of the second one, they do not have to be part of it," said Goehner. "It doesn't preclude the second one from being formed."

The first taxing district in Chelan and Douglas counties was created to fund and oversees operations of the Town Toyota Center.

It collects 0.1 percent sales tax from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat, Waterville, Chelan and Rock Island, as well as Chelan and Douglas counties.

Five cities - Cashmere, Entiat, Waterville, Chelan and Rock Island - have not expressed interest in the second district, and would not be forced to join the second one under Goehner's amendment.

The current bill running through the legislature allows for collection of up to 0.2 percent in sales and use taxes.

The taxing districts are technically known as public facilities districts (PFD) in the legislation.

Goerner is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Local Government committee that's been looking at the current bill.

The committee unanimously recommended for it to be passed on Tuesday. It'll now go before a second House committee before having a chance to move to the full House for a vote.

The measure has already been approved in the Senate in a 45-0 vote.

"Since the first districts bill was done here a few years ago, we've required an independent review," Goehner said. "This will ensure that anything going forward should have done its due diligence and should not be an encumbrance on anyone other than who’s involved in that facilities district."

The bill was originally filed in this year's legislative session by Republican Senator Brad Hawkins of East Wenatchee.

It has a component allowing for transportation improvements, which would free up money from the tax to be used for roadway infrastructure upgrades.

Those upgrades would have to be in the immediate surrounding area of where the sports complex would be built.

There's some interest in locating the complex in the Wenatchi Landing area just north of East Wenatchee, which sits on 283 acres near the Odabashian Bridge.

Hawkins secured $4 million in state funding for the Douglas County Sewer District to be extended into the area a few years ago.

If the bill is passed and signed by the governor, it would still require any project agreed upon by the cities and town in the taxing district to go before a public vote in those jurisdictions.

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