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Public notice on casino at issue

Project opponent wants vote on resolution Monday

The Spokane City Council on Monday will consider rushing its normal voting procedure to oppose the proposed Spokane Tribe of Indians casino on the West Plains.

Councilman Mike Fagan is sponsoring the resolution to put the city on record as opposing the project and has asked the council to suspend its rules so it can vote on the matter Monday instead of giving the public more than a week’s notice before a vote.

“I feel that there’s a sense of urgency,” Fagan said.

The public usually gets well over a week’s notice about issues headed for a vote by the council. Notice for the resolution, however, wasn’t released until Thursday.

Fagan said the council’s schedule wouldn’t allow a vote on the matter until April 9 unless a vote is taken on Monday; the March 26 meeting is focused on neighborhoods, he said, and the April 2 meeting has been cancelled.

In order to suspend the rules, five of the seven council members would have to approve voting on the matter on Monday.

City Council President Ben Stuckart, who supports the tribe’s casino project, said there’s no reason to rush the resolution.

“If it’s an important enough issue, you should give the public time to know about it, be knowledgeable and prepare testimony,” he said.

Opponents of the casino say its proximity to Fairchild Air Force Base could make military officials more inclined to close the base as part of a planned consolidation operation. Supporters note that military officials have not opposed the casino and point to the number of jobs the casino would create.

Fagan said he also is opposed because the casino could take business away from Spokane, especially from downtown and the Spokane Public Facilities District, which runs the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and Spokane Convention Center.

Also Monday, the City Council will consider a request from city administrators to suspend normal public notice rules to approve a $4.1 million contract to build an overflow sewage tank. Numerous tanks are planned by the city to comply with state requirements to significantly cut the amount of raw sewage that is dumped into the Spokane River when it rains. The tanks are designed to hold water when pipes back up so that the sewage can be properly treated when capacity returns to the sewers.

Stuckart said administrators have requested the early vote so construction can begin as soon as possible to ensure the project is completed before winter.

But Stuckart said he also opposes dismissing the usual public notice rules on the issue because of its large cost.