Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins framed the annual state of the city address in questions and suggestions, when he spoke Wednesday morning at Spokane Valley Mall.
The Mayor said he’d like to know if Spokane Valley residents would be willing to pay higher property tax, if that would allow the city to build much needed overpasses at Barker, Pines, Sullivan and Park Roads.
“Those four will cost close to $100 million,” Higgins said, adding that the city is competing for state and federal grants, but will have to foot part of the bill no matter what.
“What I am asking is if you’d be willing to increase property taxes for 30 years to pay for this,” Higgins said. The property tax increase would amount to 16 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.
“This is a question. This is not a proposal to raise taxes,” Higgins said.
Higgins also repeated that the city is not terminating its contract with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
“No matter what you hear or read, there is no intent to replace the contract with the Sheriff,” Higgins said.
Higgins also said that though the city also has no intent to annex anything, it will begin developing an annexation code.
“If our city is to grow, we have to move our boundaries out,” Higgins said.
Higgins said the city’s road preservation program needs some attention or there may be a shortfall of funds by 2020.
The program is partly funded by a telephone tax which has been steadily declining for the last decade. At the same time, roads are getting more expensive.
Higgins suggested a license tab fee could be a fair funding source for the road program because, “it’s essentially a user fee.”
Bicyclists could also be asked to pay a license fee because, Higgins said, bike lanes add as much as 30 percent to the cost of constructing a road.
Again, Higgins repeated: “It’s just a question.”
The last question posed to the about 40 people in the audience was whether Spokane Valley should change its name to something else. Opportunity has been mentioned in the past, but Higgins didn’t mention a new name.
“Is there interest in such a bold move?” Higgins asked.
He ended the presentation by inviting people to comment on his questions either in person or at city hall.
“We want to hear from you,” he said.