The Spokesman-Review

Unifying Would Bring Many Changes

Don’t be surprised if the people who print campaign signs aren’t too enthused about consolidating Spokane city and county governments.

The proposal, if passed by voters on Nov. 7, could cut into their business.

The charter written by freeholders would eliminate the elected offices of sheriff, coroner, treasurer, assessor, auditor and clerk. They would all be replaced by appointed positions.

Sure, there’d be elections for the 13 city-county council members who would replace the seven member City Council and three county commissioners. But they’d be elected by districts of about 30,000 residents each, not the whole city or county, so would need less money - and fewer signs - to run for office.

Under consolidation, only judges, the prosecutor and a new position, the elected executive, would be elected countywide.

The executive race surely would be a hot one, with lots of spending by all candidates. It carries the power to make political appointments, subject to council approval, and veto council decisions. A veto could be overridden if nine council members voted to do so.

There’d be plenty of other changes, as well.

All city and county departments would merge. There would be one planning department, instead of one for the city and one for the suburban and rural areas. There would be a single library system run by an independent board, and a single police department with a single chief.

Spokane Transit Authority and the Spokane Airport Board would become part of a department of transportation that would answer directly to the council.

The health district would become a health department, also answerable to the council.

Every town in the county except Spokane would remain independent. But their residents would vote on the elected officials, just as they now vote for county commissioners.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ” VOTE WOULD SET WHEELS IN MOTION The proposed charter written by Spokane County freeholders sets a firm schedule for consolidating Spokane city and county governments. Here’s what would happen if voters approve consolidation: Feb. 6, 1996: Primary election for executive and council members. March 12, 1996: Final election of 13 council members and executive. May 1, 1996: City and county governments replaced by consolidated government. Within 60 days of consolidation: Council establishes a human rights commission. Within four months: Council appoints a hearing examiner. Within six months: Council establishes a planning commission. Personnel Study Committee presents council with plan for unifying the personnel systems. Within nine months: Department heads selected. Executive convenes Council of Mayors, representatives of small towns in the county who meet quarterly to discuss issues impacting their towns. Within one year: Council convenes Election Reform Commission. Council decides whether to put golf courses, fairgrounds, the Arena and other money-making recreational facilities under a single manager. Within two years: Committee composed of chiefs and commissioners from independent fire districts completes a study and may recommend merging some with the city fire department. Any proposals must be approved by voters in the affected districts. Executive must present a plan for merging the city library system with the county library district. Within three years: County residents vote on election reforms presented by the Election Reform Commission. Within four years: Planning Commission implements a comprehensive land-use plan. Council starts review of all special purpose districts, such as water and sewer districts, which may be merged with the consolidated government. Any proposals must be approved by voters in the affected districts. Within five years: Voters elect new freeholders to critique the government. Voters must approve any recommended changes. Districting committee starts review of council districts, which must be roughly equal in population. Committee has 210 days to adopt new boundaries. - Dan Hansen

The following fields overflowed: SECTION = THE PUZZLING QUESTION OF CONSOLIDATION

This sidebar appeared with the story: ” VOTE WOULD SET WHEELS IN MOTION The proposed charter written by Spokane County freeholders sets a firm schedule for consolidating Spokane city and county governments. Here’s what would happen if voters approve consolidation: Feb. 6, 1996: Primary election for executive and council members. March 12, 1996: Final election of 13 council members and executive. May 1, 1996: City and county governments replaced by consolidated government. Within 60 days of consolidation: Council establishes a human rights commission. Within four months: Council appoints a hearing examiner. Within six months: Council establishes a planning commission. Personnel Study Committee presents council with plan for unifying the personnel systems. Within nine months: Department heads selected. Executive convenes Council of Mayors, representatives of small towns in the county who meet quarterly to discuss issues impacting their towns. Within one year: Council convenes Election Reform Commission. Council decides whether to put golf courses, fairgrounds, the Arena and other money-making recreational facilities under a single manager. Within two years: Committee composed of chiefs and commissioners from independent fire districts completes a study and may recommend merging some with the city fire department. Any proposals must be approved by voters in the affected districts. Executive must present a plan for merging the city library system with the county library district. Within three years: County residents vote on election reforms presented by the Election Reform Commission. Within four years: Planning Commission implements a comprehensive land-use plan. Council starts review of all special purpose districts, such as water and sewer districts, which may be merged with the consolidated government. Any proposals must be approved by voters in the affected districts. Within five years: Voters elect new freeholders to critique the government. Voters must approve any recommended changes. Districting committee starts review of council districts, which must be roughly equal in population. Committee has 210 days to adopt new boundaries. - Dan Hansen

The following fields overflowed: SECTION = THE PUZZLING QUESTION OF CONSOLIDATION



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