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A new mayor, a new budget deficit

Another year, another deficit.

Spokane Mayor David Condon is holding a news conference this morning to discuss the city's forecasted deficit for 2013.

As of a couple weeks ago, administrators were forecasting a gap of about $10 million between the revenue the city expects to collect in 2013 and the cost of maitaining current services and employee levels. Some of that deficit is based on predictions of revenue-sharing cuts from the unfinished state budget, so the final number may not be as dire.

We are used to the the annual spring deficit alarm bells, which have sounded the last four or five years. While the deficits usually hold somewhat true by the end of the year, the dire cuts have largely been avoided. Employee levels aren't much different than they were before the start of the 2008 recession. All the library branches still are open. Police officer levels are less than if the city had implemented the neighborhood policing plan promised by former Mayor Dennis Hession, but that plan never was implemented anyway. The number of officers in the Spokane Police Department has hardly changed -- if you consider numbers over the past decade.

So will 2013 be the year that the sky falls? Or will union concessions, reserves from whatever fund happens to be overfunded, a sales tax windfall, bonus utility taxes or some other money plug the gap?

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Jonathan Brunt
Jonathan Brunt joined The Spokesman-Review in 2004. He is the government editor. He previously was a reporter who covered Spokane City Hall, Spokane County government and public safety.

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