Local news

Spokane County won’t put jail vote on the ballot this year

Razor wire surrounds
Razor wire surrounds "B" building at Geiger Corrections Center. Spokane County commissioners announced they will delay a bond measure for a new jail. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

There will be no Spokane County jail bond measure this year and less chance of a legal challenge when a vote is scheduled, probably next year.

County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to abandon a controversial declaration of emergency that was necessary for a vote this year.

Critics argued that no genuine emergency justified sooner-than-usual consideration of land-use changes to allow a Geiger Corrections Center replacement near the Medical Lake interchange of Interstate 90.

Commissioners said Tuesday that they still thought the emergency declaration was legal and appropriate, but they wanted to remove the threat of litigation that could tie up the jail project for years.

The declaration allowed the Planning Commission to begin consideration of a proposal to add 429 acres to an urban growth area – allowing Spokane to provide sewer service to the 40-acre jail site – and a zone change from “rural traditional” to “light industrial.”

Otherwise, the state Growth Management Act would have delayed action until this fall. Voters would have had no assurance that the proposed site would be available.

Following the normal timetable for a 10-year review of urban growth areas, commissioners expect the issue to be resolved by the end of the year.

In related business Tuesday, commissioners approved a one-month, $9,166 extension of a contract with Gallatin Public Affairs for promotion of the jail project. Commissioners said the firm needs to complete a series of presentations it has scheduled through next month.

Commissioners also approved a $1,753 addition to the contract to provide media training to county employees, bringing the original $62,000 contract to a total of $119,075.

Look for complete coverage of this issue in Wednesday’s edition of The Spokesman-Review


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