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.

Spokane Public School layoffs target teachers, not administrators

May 4, 2011 in Blog

Spokane Public School officials sent out 238 layoff notices to school district employees this week. District officials feel they don’t have enough state funding, despite the fact their budget is higher than it has ever been before, and they are educating 3,000 fewer students than they did just 10 years ago.

Among those who have been told they might be terminated:

Spokane Transit Authority responds to WPC op-ed on Spokane transit project

May 2, 2011 in Blog

Late last month, WPC submitted a column to the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane regarding Spokane's Central City Alternatives Analysis project. Spokane Transit Authority CEO Susan Meyer has graciously clarified some of the points made in that column. Her thoughts are bolded below.

Chris Cargill: Efficiency should guide choice of downtown transit plan
The Spokesman-Review - April 24, 2011

Spokane Public Schools administrator claims state not increasing education spending

April 28, 2011 in Blog

An assistant superintendent for Spokane Public Schools made a surprising comment last night when addressing the district’s budget woes. Staci Vesneske, in an interview with KXLY4 News, said “what has happened is, as costs for education have risen, the state funding has not.”

Spokane-area dropout & graduation numbers improve, without new program & taxes

April 8, 2011 in Blog

Fewer students are dropping out of Spokane-area schools, and taxpayers didn't have to spend an extra $30 million to make it happen.

Spokane Public Schools says its on-time graduation rate improved by almost 8% in 2010.That means the district's graduation rate increased to 70%.

Other Spokane-area school districts saw similar improvements, including East Valley, which saw its graduation rate improve an astounding 27%.