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Tax to Expand of Convention Center Added to November Ballot

Voters will be asked to expand Three Rivers Convention Center

There are two large projects that will be decided by voters this year in the Tri-Cities.

The first is the August vote on the Regional Aquatic Center planned near Road 100 in Pasco.

But Kennewick voters will also be asked to approve a measure to effectively double the size of the Three Rivers Convention Center.

The Kennewick Public Facilities District wants to pass a 1/10 of  $.1 cent tax that would greatly expand the center. Tourism and city officials say a significant amount of business is being lost to larger venues around the Pacific Northwest and Eastern Washington.

Officials say the expansion could bring in as much as $80 million a year, and create as many as 500 new jobs to support the facility. While some smaller business owners fear the new taxes could hurt their business, city officials say similar measures approved in the past did not hurt the economy.

The Kennewick measure would be the same as the Regional Aquatic Center tax.  For every $10 purchase, the additional tax would be about 1 cent. If both taxes pass, someone making a $100 purchase would pay about $.20 cents more. The Kennewick Three Rivers tax would only cover purchases in that city.

Some critics say expansion of the convention center is vital but believe some of the money should be used to renovate the aging Toyota Center.

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