Voices

Council divides money for social, economic agencies

Arts Council says it didn’t receive application letter

No one got what they wanted Tuesday when the Spokane Valley City Council voted on how much money to give social service and economic development agencies, but nearly everyone who applied got something.

The requests for funding from 15 agencies totaled $274,268, but the city only had $150,000 set aside to give out. Each council member submitted a list of how much money they wanted to give each agency and the suggestions were averaged to give the discussion a place to start. The averages totaled $159,572.

But before the discussion began, Jim Harken of the Spokane Valley Arts Council got up to say that his agency has always applied and received money in the past, but did not receive a letter in the mail this year letting them know of the application deadline. Harken noted that his group has donated two statues worth more than $200,000 to the city. “We were unaware of this totally,” he said. Harken asked that his agency be considered for funding “even though we didn’t go through the proper process.”

Councilman Arne Woodard said his wife is a fan of the Berry Picker statue recently given to the city. “I, for one, would support putting the Arts Council in this,” he said.

City attorney Cary Driskell said the city has a very specific application process that must be followed. In one previous year an application was rejected even though it was only one hour past the deadline, said Councilman Bill Gothmann. “In order to be fair to all citizens, I suggest we reject all late applications,” he said.

When it came down to allocating the money, there seemed to be a different formula advocated by nearly every council member. Gothmann suggested eliminating every agency that did not get at least four votes from council members. Councilman Chuck Hafner said the council should just use the average amounts and reduce each equally to get the $159,000 down to $150,000.

Councilwoman Brenda Grassel said she took the average and rounded down each amount. She also removed Community Minded Television, which only got one vote for funding, and took an additional $500 from the top four recipients to reach the $150,000 figure. “That gave everybody a little bit of something,” she said.

Hafner said he wasn’t comfortable with Gothmann’s method because it would mean that five agencies would get no funding at all. He said he thought one of those, the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, was particularly worthy. “I’d rather see them get some money than no money,” he said.

Gothmann acknowledged that it was hard to choose. “Every single one of these is a worthy agency,” he said. “This is tough.”

The council ultimately voted nearly unanimously for Grassel’s funding method. Only Councilman Gary Schimmels voted against it. “I think it’s equitable,” said Woodard. “I’ll vote for it because I got my way,” Hafner said.

The agencies that received funding are: Big Brothers Big Sisters, $1,000; the Coalition of Responsible Disabled, $400; the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, $2,000; Project Access, $16,500; Spokane Valley Partners, $30,500; Spokane Valley Veterans Forum, $600; Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels, $9,000; YWCA, $3,000; Greater Spokane Incorporated, $41,500; Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, $9,000; International Trade Alliance, $10,000; Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $2,000; the Valley HUB, $5,000; and Valleyfest, $19,500.

In other business, the council was presented with more than 100 letters objecting to the 25 mile per hour speed limit on the new couplet that extended Indiana Avenue to the intersection of Mission Avenue and Flora Road. The city’s traffic engineer previously recommended setting the speed limit at 35 mph, the council narrowly decided to reject the suggestion. That vote meant the new road opened with a default speed limit of 25 mph.

Jack Marr, property manager for the Walt Worthy building on East Indiana near the new couplet, said his tenants want the “speed trap” eliminated and that speed limits should be applied in a “fair and equitable manner.” “It’s $154 a shot,” he said of the speeding tickets. “I think it should be reviewed.”

Resident Melissa Bolton said that the speed limit to the east and west of the new road is already at 35 mph. She said it was “extremely disheartening” that council members would disregard the recommendation of their own traffic engineer.



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