Councilman articulates new vision for Valley

Here they go again! Ex-Councilman Munson, oops, ex-Mayor Munson, et al are at it again, demanding a plan, you know, that “vision” thing. So here goes.

First, here’s what’s not included: a Mayor’s Ball, excessive council travel, thousands spent for beverages, years of free dinners for council and spouses, a 2.9 percent “emergency” property tax and corresponding 5.5 percent salary increase for all city employees, lawsuits with Spokane County and citizens, loss of reliable snow plowing and no-bid Idaho contracts excluding local businesses, thousands spent to confirm our excellent law enforcement, a West Side city manager, a $1 million California plan, a $42 million unfunded mandate called SARP or Sprague/ Appleway Revitalization Plan (actually a re-allocation of taxpayer wallets and property rights), a multi-million dollar City Hall and millions more to re-work traffic and intersections. Get the picture?

Instead, here are some common sense possibilities for economic development not built upon the backs of taxpayers and small business, perhaps using the City Hall property acquisition stash.

To help spur development west of U-City to the freeway and encourage free market activity, let’s explore possible five-year tax abatements for all new construction or improvements to existing buildings in excess of $150,000 if the improvements amount to at least 70 percent of assessed value.

I’ve proposed crosswalks for Auto Row, and other areas of Sprague to facilitate foot traffic. Can we landscape Appleway similar to the city-paid landscaping in the Sprague corridor? Can we create parking possibilities west of University City on one-way Sprague by making the far outside merge-lane (south side) into sections of parallel parking within each block to encourage accessibility to destination businesses like car dealerships?

We need consistent, business-friendly and common sense signage standards throughout the city arrived at by business and government consensus. Keep and add to zoning entitlements.

Reduce government growth to the inflation rate or less. Our finance committee has asked for up to a 9 percent decrease in general fund spending, reversing the previous council-driven spending which would result in a multi-million dollar shortfall by 2013 likely covered by tax increases. Public safety, roads, parks and the preservation of our neighborhoods are budget priorities.

The city of Spokane Valley is growing only 1.4 percent a year. There is fierce competition with Idaho, Spokane, Spokane County, Airway Heights and Liberty Lake for business and jobs. Mr. Munson, after a lifetime of hard work, I’m proud to have invested in this city, employ Valley citizens and pay my taxes. Seeing injustice, I stepped forward, though my properties are out of SARP. You see, building a community is just as important as the bricks and mortar of a city.

So Mr. Munson and cohorts, including SARP cheerleader Dick Behm (Spokane Valley Business Association), Dr. Philip Rudy, Valley Chamber of Commerce, and John Carroll, Planning Commission chairperson, your newspaper campaign of personal attacks looks petty and reflects poorly on you. This Easter season is a time of renewal and hope. Let it inspire us to build that community with a renewed commitment and respect for all.

Spokane Valley City Councilman Dean Grafos can be reached by e-mail at dgrafos@spokanevalley.org

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