Thurston County’s four largest cities — Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Yelm — have all opted out of a convention district proposed by the Thurston County Board of Commissioners.
Both the Olympia and Tumwater city councils voted Tuesday night to remove themselves from the district, and officials from both cities argued that county officials simply didn’t give them enough time to weigh the options.
The county commissioners propose putting a measure on the November ballot that would create a convention district, and a body to govern that district. For now, county officials will continue with the plan, Commission Chair Bud Blake said Wednesday.
The county will conduct a public hearing for the proposal at 5:30 p.m July 25 at the Thurston County Courthouse. Blake said any changes to the proposal would come following the hearing.
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At Tuesday night’s Olympia City Council meeting, Mayor Cheryl Selby said these are the types of decisions Olympia residents need to be engaged in, but the schedule was too compressed to allow for that.
While the council unanimously voted to remove Olympia from the district, a few council members said they’d consider a convention center at another time. Councilman Clark Gilman, for example, said it would be nice to be able to attend large events in Thurston County, rather than travel to SeaTac or elsewhere.
A resolution passed by the Tumwater City Council expressed similar sentiments.
“Although the concept of a regional cultural arts, stadium and convention district could have economic benefits to the city of Tumwater and surrounding areas in terms of increased tourism and employment, the Tumwater City Council believes that further discussion and information, such as an economic study, is needed before proceeding,” the resolution read.
The Lacey City Council opted out of the district at its July 13 meeting. Councilman Lenny Greenstein said it wouldn’t be appropriate to tax Lacey residents for something that “doesn’t make sense at this time.”
The Yelm City Council opted out of the district at a July 11 meeting.
Residents of the district could be subject to a property tax of as much as 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, with revenue going toward creation and operation of a convention center.