September 24, 1995 in Nation/World

No More City Council; No More County Commission

By The Spokesman-Review

By next summer, Spokane talk show hosts might not have Steve Hasson and Dexter Amend to kick around.

In fact, the entire County Commission and Spokane City Council will disappear if voters decide Nov. 7 to consolidate Spokane city and county under a single, regional government.

No more coroner.

No more sheriff.

No more city manager.

No more Spokane Transit Authority.

Don’t worry; there still would be plenty to talk about. The new government would have nearly as many elected officials as the two it would replace.

The “unified charter,” as the proposal is called, would create a council with 13 members, each of them elected to represent a district of about 30,000 residents. Outlying areas would be guaranteed at least three council members; the Valley would get three to itself, and portions of others.

An executive, elected countywide, would have authority to veto council decisions, although that veto could be overridden with a vote of nine council members.

The executive also would appoint department heads, including a medical examiner, who would replace the coroner, and a police chief. All appointments would be subject to council approval.

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 district 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.

If voters approve the unified charter, the new officials would be elected March 12, 1996. On May 1, the merger would become official and the new leaders would take over from the county commissioners and City Council.

Most other transitions from two governments to one would occur during the next two years, although officials in other merged communities say it takes five or more years to work out all the details.

Five years after the merger, voters would elect new freeholders to suggest changes, if they decide any are needed.

, DataTimes

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