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Spokane Valley budget reflects familiar goals

Spokane Valley’s budget goals for 2019 remain similar to last year: funding for road preservation and public safety, as well as infrastructure and park improvements.

At a projected $70.7 million, the 2019 preliminary budget contains a more than 1 percent increase in expenses over last year.

However, the city is anticipating a $3.7 million surplus in the 2019 budget.

The city expects to collect $45 million in revenue next year – a $2.4 million increase over last year. Sales and property tax are two large sources of revenue that will generate more than $39 million for the city.

Out of the 10 most populous cities in Washington, Spokane Valley ranked second in the state for the largest jump of taxable retail sales in the first quarter of 2018. With $567 million in reported sales, the city experienced a more than 11 percent increase – trailing only Vancouver, according to the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Spokane Valley is planning to once again forgo a 1 percent property tax levy increase that’s allowed by state law in 2019. This will mark the 10th consecutive year the city is opting out of raising property taxes.

The city’s public safety contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office remains its biggest expenditure at $26 million in the 2019 preliminary budget.

Other expenses include $2 million towards building and planning, and more than $1 million in Browns Park improvements.

City officials plan to work with legislators next year to gain funding for the Pines and Park Road grade separation projects to separate rail and vehicle traffic.

Other priorities include new business recruitment and updating the city’s bike/pedestrian plan to include trail extensions to Balfour Park, Dishman Hills and the Centennial Trail.

The city remains concerned about the decline in street fund revenue in 2019. Street fund revenue is dependent upon a motor vehicle fuel tax and telephone utility tax – both of which are declining as vehicles become more fuel efficient and more people give up their landlines.

The city’s telephone tax revenue – which once generated around $3 million in 2009 – is only expected to generate $1.7 million in 2019.

As a result of the decline, Spokane Valley has relied on real estate excise taxes to pay for pavement preservation, but that limits the city’s ability to provide matching dollars typically required by federal and state agencies for road projects.

The city indicated plans in the budget to hire two engineers and three construction inspectors for the Community and Public Works Department, who will assist in meeting future capital project needs. Their salaries will be primarily financed through grants.

The city will hold three public meetings for the 2019 budget before it’s adopted on Nov. 13.


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