Lacey City Council made quick work of the Thurston County Commission-proposed convention district, spending less than 5 minutes Thursday deciding that it will opt out of the proposal.
“Right now, it makes no sense to support this,” Councilman Lenny Greenstein said. “The timing is not right, and it’s not appropriate to put an additional tax burden on our citizens for something that doesn’t make sense at this time.”
The Thurston County Commission has proposed a “cultural arts, stadium and convention district” that, if approved by voters, would raise tax revenue for the creation and operations of a convention center.
The county proposes putting a measure on the November ballot that would create the convention district and governing body that would submit a comprehensive plan for a convention center, including its finances, to the state.
The district could pursue a tax to fund and operate the center, such as a property tax levy of as much as 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Voters would not only have to approve the formation of the district, they would have to approve that tax.
The county has set a public hearing for July 25 on the proposal.
Before that, though, the county’s cities have to decide whether to remain part of the proposed district. If their councils take no action or vote yes, the city will be included in the tax-paying district. Or, like Lacey City Council, they can vote to opt out.
The county appears to have an uphill battle on its hands.
Olympia and Tumwater city councils will vote July 18 on the issue. Resolutions for both councils share similar language that directs the Thurston County commissioners to remove Olympia and Tumwater from the boundaries of the proposed district.
What wasn’t mentioned Thursday during Lacey City Council’s decision was the Nisqually Tribe. But the tribe was mentioned during a council work session last week, when Mayor Andy Ryder said he couldn’t support the county’s proposal because it would potentially compete with a tribal development.
After Thursday’s meeting, Ryder was tight-lipped about the tribal proposal, other than to say it could be an “entertainment complex.”