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.
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.
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.
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.
In my book Eco-Fads, I argue that many politicians and policymakers actively oppose auditing their policies because the benefit of the policies isn't environmental improvement, it is the good feeling associated with publicly supporting the policy. I wrote:
Auditing the results of a policy serves only as a tool to point out the shortcomings of favored environmental approaches. Data that are not collected cannot be used to show whether elected officials made a mistake.
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.
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 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.
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.