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House passes rescue bill for Wenatchee arena

OLYMPIA – House lawmakers have passed a bill giving the city of Wenatchee authority to raise its sales tax to help rescue an events arena from default.

House lawmakers voted 62-36 on Wednesday to pass Senate Bill 5984, authorizing a 0.2 percent sales tax increase without voter approval.

The bill now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it.

The Greater Wenatchee Regional Events Center Public Facilities District defaulted Dec. 1 on nearly $42 million in debt for the 2008 construction of the publicly owned Town Toyota Center.

The jurisdictions that make up the district have also agreed to ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to help pay off the debt. The deadline for submitting paperwork to get the measure on the next election ballot is Friday.