Second chances can be hard to get. With the landslide passage of the regional sales tax increase last month, the Town Toyota Center and Public Facilities District have been given a second chance. They can not waste this opportunity. Third chances are rarely given.
The Town Toyota Center is a very nice facility. But the original plan sold to and by the City of Wenatchee was a financial disaster. Clearly, mistakes and very bad decisions were made. Once new leaders were put in place the City was able to realistically assess the situation and joined with other regional leaders to put together a plan to solve the construction debt fiscal crisis which was passed by the voters. With the construction debt financing plan now in place, that issue should be behind our community. Now it is time to look to the future for the Town Toyota Center.
Their has been a major change in who is the lead on this project. Originally, this was a City of Wenatchee project. The PFD was a mere shell, totally controlled by the City, existing solely to get the sales tax rebate from the state. That has all been changed. The City will have one of seven seats on the Board (instead of the majority they were originally given) and will have no liability going forward over and above their significant construction financing obligation.
This is now the PFD’s project and they have the responsibility to make it work operationally – annual income meets or exceeds annual expenses including a reserve for operational shortfalls and replacement and upgrades that will certainly be needed by the building in the decades to come.
The PFD Board needs to make good, sound decisions and get and keep the right people in place to run the TTC (for what it is worth, I think current manager Mark Miller is the right guy). The management of the TTC needs to operate the facility well and continue to build the number and popularity of events. Reaching out to some of the outlying communities that weren’t as supportive of the regional tax increase and highlight the benefits to them as well would be a good secondary goal.
We are blessed to live in a great region with generous people and communities. They have agreed to shoulder the burden of the construction debt for the TTC, the focus now must be grow the operational strength of the facility so they never have to ask for taxpayer help again.
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