October 5, 2012 in City

Spokane will end consumer protection program

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Steve Parker takes a measured sample of premium gas to check the accuracy of delivery from a pump at the Zip Trip on the corner of Illinois and Perry on Oct. 12.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane Mayor David Condon has decided to dissolve the oldest weights and measures department in the state.

Steve Parker, Spokane’s only city sealer, said he was informed this week that he will be laid off in early November.

The one-man department checks every scale used to calculate price and all regular-grade gas pumps once a year to make sure they are accurate. Duties for checking scales and pumps will revert to the state of Washington, which will only check the scales and pumps once every three or four years.

Former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner also proposed eliminating the department last year, but the City Council disagreed and funded it for 2012.

“I’m disappointed that it actually is going to happen because the state certainly can’t take care of the consumers in the city as well,” Parker said on Friday. “There’s a lot of time for the devices to be inaccurate before the state gets around to checking them.”

Cutting the department will save about $60,000 out of the city’s $164 million general fund budget.

City Council President Ben Stuckart said he opposes the elimination of the department but that he doubts there will be four votes on the council to restore it in the 2013 budget.

City Councilman Steve Salvatori said he supports the decision to cut the city service because it duplicates work that could be done by the state.

“In a way we already pay for it through the state,” he said.

State inspectors already handle weights and measures activities for Spokane Valley, unincorporated Spokane County and everywhere else in Eastern Washington.

When asked about keeping the department earlier this year, Condon indicated that weights and measures was less of a priority than other programs. He has said he needs to cut about $10 million of costs to balance the 2013 budget.

“Is it causing people to shop differently and do their activity differently whether the store they are going to is in the county or the city?” Condon said earlier this year. “Those are some of the questions I will be asking.”

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