Ccargill

On Spokane's Prop. 2, understanding taxes vs. fees

January 16, 2013 in Blog

On February 12, Spokane voters will decide whether a taxpayer safeguard voters have already approved at the state level should apply to the city of Spokane.

Proposition 2 would require a majority plus one vote of the city council to raise any taxes.

In a recent Op-Ed piece in the Spokesman-Review, Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref expressed confusion over the difference between a fee and a tax.

On Spokane's Prop. 2, voters are best served by facts, not attacks

January 14, 2013 in Blog

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, and Spokane City Councilwoman Amber Waldref wrote an Opinion-Editorial piece in this weekend’s Spokesman-Review regarding Proposition 2 – the supermajority requirement to raise taxes in Spokane.

We are pleased the Spokesman-Review has also asked Washington Policy Center to write on the same issue. That piece, co-authored by Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, will be appearing in the newspaper this coming weekend.

Spokane City Council to vote on taxpayer protection measure Dec. 17th

December 5, 2012 in Blog

The Spokane City Council will decide December 17th whether to follow Pierce County’s lead and place a supermajority requirement to raise taxes before voters.

The charter change would require any new or increased taxes get a majority plus one vote - or five votes total - on the city council to pass.  Currently four “yes” votes are needed for the council to increases taxes on Spokane residents.

Should school construction savings be sent back to taxpayers?

August 23, 2012 in Blog

It’s always good news when projects come in under-budget – especially when they are taxpayer-funded.

In Spokane, the Spokane School District says it’s on track for bond-funded projects to come in $47.9 million below budget. That’s an enormous savings and the school district should be congratulated for making it happen. And taxpayers should be pleased.

The question now becomes what to do with that extra money? Spokane voters approved a $288 million bond in 2009 with the understanding that it would go toward specific projects.

Spokane mayor introduces no-growth budget with impressive accountability and accessibility

August 10, 2012 in Blog

When Spokane Mayor David Condon ran for office last year, he promised he would approach city government differently than his predecessors. If his first budget proposal is any indication, he plans on following through on that promise.

In 2012, the City of Spokane will spend $164.5 million in its General Fund budget. The mayor says the 2013 budget will not exceed that number. Even though it is dealing with a $10 million shortfall, the mayor did not use any money from reserves to make that happen. The mayor is also forgoing an annual increase in property taxes.

Spokane adopts new water rate structure, but misses opportunity

April 26, 2012 in Blog

The Spokane City Council has unanimously passed a plan supported by Mayor David Condon to throw out the city’s five-tier, punishing water structure.

The five-tier structure, put in place in 2010, at its highest level charged 23 times more for the last gallon of water used than for the first. The unfair, unneeded system was adopted by a previous administration and council to not only call attention to conservation, but also to “provide sustainable revenue” and protect the Rathdrum Prairie-Spokane Valley Aquifer.

Pasco plan would lead to higher new homeowner fees and lower home values

March 5, 2012 in Blog

The Pasco School District is one of the fastest-growing in the state of Washington. As a result, it faces increasing challenges to house its student population. From 2000 to 2010, Pasco School District’s enrollment skyrocketed from 8,850 to 15,127, a 71% increase. State officials predict the growth will continue. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) estimates 5,000 more students will be enrolled by 2016, bringing total enrollment to about 21,000 students.

Is it the students' fault when a school doesn't rank Exemplary?

March 1, 2012 in Blog

Is it an excuse or reality? Pasco School District officials appear to be blaming non-English speaking and low income students for poor results in the state’s most recent Public School Accountability Index.

The index, released in January by Washington Policy Center, grades all of the state’s nearly 2,100 schools. The rankings offer parents and taxpayers a report card on how their child’s school is performing.

Replacing one tax with another won't help Spokane

December 19, 2011 in Blog

Spokane City Councilman Richard Rush is introducing a plan that, on the surface, appears to be a net positive for citizens. He will ask the city council tonight to put a proposition on the February ballot that would repeal the city’s utility tax.

The utility tax is one of the main revenue sources for Spokane. It is collected on sewer, water and garbage fees. Getting rid of it altogether would force the city to reduce future spending by some $30-35 million.

Spokane leaders have chance to design a fair, easy-to-understand water rate structure

October 20, 2011 in Blog

After much public outcry and extensive media coverage of research published by Washington Policy Center, city leaders in Spokane have announced they are going to review and possibly replace the city’s ill-conceived five tier water rate structure.

Spokane City Council says save water, pay more

September 14, 2011 in Blog

Earlier this year, the City of Spokane implemented a punishing five-tier price structure for water use for city homeowners. The message from government officials was clear – save water or we’ll charge you more.

Today, citizens are saving even more water than they did before, and the new message from councilmembers is contradictory – we’re going to charge you more, because you’re conserving. It’s not hard to figure out why Spokane homeowners are frustrated.

UPDATE: Spokane's Clean Air Agency looks at new, costly regulation - but is there a problem?

August 3, 2011 in Blog

(UPDATE: The SRCAA voted unanimously Thursday to delay implementation of this rule for at least six months. Board members echoed WPC suggestions about looking at voluntary measures and understanding who would be impacted before any new regulation is adopted.)

On promises of economic development, Spokane moves forward with $36 million Electric Trolleybus

July 21, 2011 in Blog

The Spokane Transit Authority board Wednesday night unanimously approved moving forward with plans for a three-mile long Electric Trolleybus line in downtown Spokane.

The Electric Trolleybus line would cost taxpayers $36 million dollars, some of which would have to be paid for by a sales tax increase in Spokane.

Spokane's downtown transit option: 'Coolness' or common sense?

July 7, 2011 in Blog

The City of Spokane and Spokane Transit Authority have unanimously decided to move forward with plans for an electric trolleybus in Downtown Spokane. The decision, after more than a year of deliberation and input from a community Sounding Board, eliminated both a most expensive and least expensive option.

Are taxes and broken promises really the key to balancing Spokane's budget?

May 13, 2011 in Blog

Government officials in the City of Spokane are asking for more taxes and broken promises in order to balance the city’s budget.

Mayor Mary Verner announced her budget this week. It would raise taxes and fees by $1.4 million on the citizens of Spokane. More than $400,000 of new revenue would come from red light camera fines, showing the cameras are not for public safety but are a mechanism to collect more money from citizens. Mayor Verner proposes diverting those dollars into the general fund.