May 24, 2011 in City

In brief: Council won’t put tax hike on ballot

 

New property taxes are off the table for Spokane in the August primary and probably the rest of the year.

The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 5-0 against a proposal to ask voters to increase property taxes to help balance the budget. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner already had dismissed the idea and administrators said declining property values may make such a tax boost less helpful.

“It had no traction,” said Councilman Richard Rush. “There was a pretty good analysis that if we did, we wouldn’t have anything to show for it given the current trend in property valuations.”

City levy rates can’t go higher than $3.60 per $1,000 of property value. According to an analysis by the city’s finance department, Spokane’s current rate is $2.72. If property values decrease another 10 percent, which some say likely already has occurred, the city’s levy rate will increase to $3.07.

A levy lid lift that would fix the city’s $6.6 million deficit would bring the city’s levy rate close to the $3.60 cap, meaning further drops in property values could result in the city collecting less in property taxes. The city could ask voters to go above $3.60, but it would need at least 60 percent support to win approval.

Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Jon Snyder were absent Monday.

Jonathan Brunt

Doctor files claims against state, ex-wife

Dr. William Werschler has filed a $10 million claim against the Department of Health alleging his civil rights were violated during a disciplinary action.

Werschler owns Spokane Dermatology Clinic. He has been embroiled in a contentious divorce and also has sued his former wife, Kara Werschler, alleging she submitted anonymous, erroneous tips to state investigators to gain legal leverage, said his attorney, Bob Dunn.

Regulators filed a disciplinary complaint against Werschler in 2009 but the two sides settled, with the state basically clearing him of any wrongdoing.

Werschler contends the state failed to properly investigate the claims. In his lawsuit, he charges that the erroneous state action unraveled a deal he had crafted to sell his practice, disparaged his personal and professional reputation, and stripped him of patients.

The state has not yet responded to the charges.

John Stucke


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