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County, city at odds over tab fee increase

Spokane County commissioners are taking umbrage at something said by a Spokane city official.

What? You say we'll have to be a bit more specific, because the county and city are almost always in a state of mutual umbrage?

OK, let's start again: Last week's comment by City Council President Joe Shogan that the county has been slow to respond to the idea of higher license tab fees does not sit well with the commissioners. They have fired back with an indignant letter, the text of which can be found inside the blog.

Last week, Shogan was quoted in an S-R news story about the council's decision to pull a proposed $20 license tab fee from its weekly agenda. The city is looking at the fee hike as a way to avoid some layoffs.

Shogan said he's been discussing a countywide tab increase for two or three years with the commissioners, but so far county leaders have balked at the idea.

They've been talking up a regional transportation benefit district for years (which would be a way to get a countywide tab fee increase) and asked the local jurisdictions to sign on, commissioners said in today's letter.  But city officials have yet to put anything down on paper or adopt a resolution to do that.

Or to keep it in baseball lingo, we can't balk if you can't get to first base.

August 12, 2010

Council President Joe Shogan
City of Spokane
808 West Spokane Falls Boulevard
Spokane,. WA 99201

Dear Council President Shogan:

We read with interest your comments in this past Tuesday's Spokesman-Review regarding the current status of pursuing a "regional" transportation benefit district. In the article, it claims you stated that "county leaders have balked'at the idea."
Nothing could be further from the truth, and to suggest as such, is to completely ignore
the consistent position of the Board of County Commissioners and repeated requests for
other jurisdictions to put their positions on the matter on record.

The purpose of this letter is to once again reiterate the position the BaCC has held
consistently for nearly two years. We know area residents believe maintaining our
transportation system is one of the most basic functions of local government. We also
strongly believe those same citizens prefer local governments in this area work together
to form a single solution, as opposed to each jurisdiction developing its own plan.
With that being said, the BaCC supports pursuing the formation of a regional
transportation benefit district and working with area residents to identify the appropriate
funding sources(s) to address the continued challenge faced by all jUrisdictions to
address this region's transportation infrastructure in light of reductions in gas tax
revenues and reductions in funding from state and federal transportation programs.
However, we want to go forward with the support of a majority of the jurisdictions that
stand to benefit from such an effort.

Prior to scheduling the statutorily required public hearing for formation of such a district, we have consistently asked jurisdictions within Spokane County for responses to two items. First, we have asked that each jUrisdiction clearly state a position of support for moving forward either through a signed letter or adopted resolution. Second, we have asked for written responseslinput to the "draft" inter-local agreement on this subject that is also reqUired under the law. While these requests have been made in presentations to city councils, Council of Government meetings, and in individual discussions with local elected officials, we have yet to receive a single written response to either of these requests.Receiving individual observations from individual elected officials is not the same as receiving a formal request from a governmental entity.

We would like to once again request, that if the City of Spokane wishes to proceed in forming a regional transportation district that some formal statement of support and response to the draft inter-local agreement be forwarded as soon as possible. It is only through those formal communication channels that public policy issues important to the region can be pursued with confidence that the jurisdictions have the same goals in mind.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to a timely response and continued dialogue on this matter.

Mark Richard, Bonnie Mager, Todd Mielke

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