Monday, the Spokane City Council will be asked to totally replace Chapter 3.01 of Spokane Municipal Code with the entirely new chapter 3.01A. This will dramatically change the structure of the police and fire departments.
In the debate over civil service vs. patronage, a more important point is being totally overlooked. Spokane is in the midst of the most serious budget tightening we’ve experienced in decades, if not ever. Last fall’s budget debate surfaced concerns that Spokane was giving significant raises to management at the expense of public safety. Police and firefighters were eliminated; an entire fire station was closed.
This move at this time will simply aggravate budget problems. These changes create up to 30 new management positions at a time when we cannot afford them; when we desperately need more firefighters and police on the streets keeping us safe. Once these positions are created, there will have to be salaries commensurate with manager-level skills. (That is the argument we heard last fall, and will undoubtedly hear if these changes are adopted.)
What critical programs will be sacrificed to pay for these new managers? We cannot afford this. The City Council must vote against an ever more top-heavy municipal government.