September 29, 2012 in Washington Voices

Council starts money allocation talks

System proposed by mayor to simplify distribution
By The Spokesman-Review
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Agencies receiving funds

The council voted unanimously to fund the following economic development agencies:

 Greater Spokane Incorporated, $34,582

 Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, $9,514

 International Trade Alliance, $9,282

 Spokane Valley Arts Council, $6,296

 Spokane Valley HUB Sports Center, $3,429

 Valleyfest, $19,368.

The social service agencies receiving funding are:

 Coalition of the Responsible Disabled, $757

 Free Cakes for Kids Spokane, $229

 Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, $1,643

 Project Access, $18,368

 Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $1,429

 Spokane Valley HUB, $2,000

 Spokane Valley Partners, $29,225

 Valley Meals on Wheels, $9,368

 YWCA, $4,510.

Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey suggested a new formula for allocating city money to economic development and social service agencies at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Towey recommended not giving any money to any agency that was not recommended for funding by at least four council members. The money allocated to those agencies could then be given to the agencies that were recommended for funding by all seven council members.

The amount of money requested is always much higher than the city has available. This year 22 agencies requested $344,578 in funding when the city only had $150,000 available.

In the past, allocating money to economic development and social service agencies has lead to long, drawn-out debates.

Each council member submitted a list of how much money they wanted to give each agency. Those numbers were added up and averaged and used as a starting point in the discussion.

Towey’s new formula proved popular among most of the council members.

His formula freed up $7,512 from seven agencies to be given to the eight agencies that received unanimous support of the council, giving each of those agencies an additional $939.

Councilman Arne Woodard said awarding the money to the eight agencies with unanimous support made sense. “They should be the ones who reap some of the extra,” he said.

Councilman Chuck Hafner said he preferred giving out the awards based on the averaged amounts. “All agencies get something,” he said.

Towey said he thought the city should adopt the formula for future years as well. “I think we can make this as complicated or as simple as we want,” he said. “I think it’s simple. I think it’s something we can understand.”

Woodard said it is impossible to help everyone. “I feel badly for a lot them,” he said. “They’re all good organizations.”

In other business, the council also decided to set aside $50,000 of its lodging tax money for city uses in addition to the $30,000 it usually sets aside for the marketing of CenterPlace. The money is collected by hotels and motels and can only be used for projects aimed at promoting tourism.

Proposed uses for the $50,000 include a smartphone tourism app and advertising in regional tourism guides.

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