May 23, 2011
Wenatchee City Council members were visibly distraught following last Thursday’s work session
where discussions continued over the City’s financial future. The discussion on how to further involve
community and business leaders in deciding how to cut expenses or raise taxes to cover Town Toyota Center debt
payments resulted in no clear answers. The city has solicited wider public input on how the city’s budget
will be affected by the arena debt. The City has been paying $1.6 million a year for the past two years to cover
the majority of the arena’s debt payments. The City Council has said it will likely sign a new loan
agreement to continue paying the debt when the current short-term, interest-only bonds are refinanced later this
year. When that happens, the city could be paying between $2 million and $3 million a year toward the debt.
Community leaders told the council last week that they need more information from the city before they can make
any recommendations on city financial issues. Wenatchee Bureau Chief Steve Hair talked to Mayor Johnson after
Thursday’s work session . . Some City Council members want to give the group specific tasks, such as
exploring the idea of raising the sales tax or creating a metropolitan parks districts, while other members wanted
to give the group free reign.