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Wenatchee-Area Default Results In New Reform Law

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A follow-up now to a story we first brought you in December. It was about the default of an under-performing hockey and concert arena in Wenatchee, Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into law a rescue plan for that project. But the new law also aims to prevent future municipal defaults.

Here’s the quick back story. On December 1st of last year, the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee went into default. This happened after the two counties and seven small cities that backed the events center missed a $42 million balloon payment.

A view of the Toyota Town Center in Wentachee, Wash. Photo by Austin Jenkins
A view of the Toyota Town Center in Wentachee, Wash. Photo by Austin Jenkins

The new law signed by the Governor authorizes local tax increases to pay off the debt. Voters in parts of North Central Washington will be asked to approve the tax hike this April.

Meanwhile, public facilities districts elsewhere in Washington will be subject to more state oversight. For instance, in the future, before any new debt is issued, the state Department of Commerce must conduct an independent financial review.

Despite the default, Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center remains open for minor league hockey and other events.

On the Web:

Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District:

Town Toyota Center:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 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.