Latest from The Spokesman-Review
New property taxes are off the table for Spokane in the August primary and probably the rest of the year.
The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 5-0 against a proposal to ask voters to increase property taxes to help balance the budget. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner already had dismissed the idea and administrators said declining property values may make such a tax boost less helpful.
"It had no traction," said Councilman Richard Rush. "There was a pretty good analysis that if we did, we wouldn't have anything to show for it given the current trend in property valuations."
The Spokane City Council on Monday will decide if it will ask voters to approve a property tax increase to help balance the city’s budget next year.
At a meeting earlier this week, there appeared to be little, if any, support on the council for the tax proposal, and council members Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Corker argued that it should be pulled from the agenda. But other council members said they preferred to hold Monday’s hearing to hear from the public before making a final decision.
City administrators say there’s a $6.6 million deficit that must be dealt with to balance the 2012 budget. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said earlier this month that she opposes asking voters for the higher property tax and prefers raising hotel taxes, diverting money from red light camera tickets and other measures to balance the budget.
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner says she’s not considering new taxes to bail the city out of its $10 million hole for 2011.
City leaders are getting an early start to the budget for the second year in a row and will present a preliminary budget plan to City Council by early May, Verner said in an interview this week. She said she is asking all departments to take an across-the-board cut of nearly 3 percent that will save $3.5 million and will unveil a plan in the coming weeks that will deal with the remeaining $6.5 million hole.
“Our work force will shrink this time around. There’s no way around it,” Verner said. “This year, there will be impact on services,”
Verner has ruled out raising utility taxes and says she doesn’t plan to ask voters for higher property taxes through a levy lid lift. That was part of Mayor Jim West’s strategy to help deal with significant deficits in 2005.
“I’m not counting on any increased on-going source of revenue,” Verner said. “One reason that I’m not counting on them is … I don’t know if they’re going to be viable in this economic climate.”