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Municipal Bond Bill Becomes Legislative Version Of '24'

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A municipal bond bill in Olympia is turning into a legislative version of the TV show "24." The State Treasurer and bond market analysts hope the legislature pulls a Jack Bauer-style rescue before Thursday morning. That's when a public events center in Central Washington will default on its bonds.

Town Toyota Center is a 4,300 seat venue in Wenatchee.

Its website promotes it as a place to catch a concert, ice hockey or the Wizard of Oz. Now a $42 million principal payment is due. But the Public Facility District doesn't have the cash on hand and a court has blocked the city of Wenatchee from issuing a contingency loan.

That's why Democratic State Treasurer Jim McIntire is urging the legislature to step in with an emergency loan. Without it he warns interest rates on bonds could go up for towns all over Washington.

Matt Fabian is a leading municipal bonds analyst. He's based in Connecticut, but he can pinpoint Wenatchee on the map.

"People like me are already watching Wenatchee very closely and you know talking about it in our newsletters," Fabian says.

Fabian doesn't necessarily agree that a default in Wenatchee would cost other local governments dearly. But he says the bond markets would view a state intervention favorably.

Will there be enough time and enough votes in the legislature to prevent the Wenatchee default? That's this week's Olympia cliffhanger.

On the Web:

Treasurer McIntire's press release:

http://www.tre.wa.gov/news/pr111118.shtml

Town Toyota Center:

http://www.towntoyotacenter.com/

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.