Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Mayor plans to take full $169k salary next year

Spokane Mayor David Condon is proposing to eliminate 100 City Hall jobs to avoid raising taxes next year.

But he wants to boost spending in at least one area: his own paycheck.

Condon, who agreed to hold his annual salary to $100,000 in his first year, intends to begin taking the full mayoral salary of about $169,000 beginning in 2013.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Condon was advised by the city's legal staff to take the full amount rather than continue former Mayor Mary Verner's pledge to hold the mayor's annual salary at $100,000, which has created accounting and other problems for the potential problems for the city.

The city charter specifies that the mayor should be paid equal to the highest-paid city employee, which currently is Fire Chief Bobby Williams at $169,000. Condon agreed to accept the lower amount for 2012, saying that he would abide by the amount included in the budget that was in place when he took office but he made no promises for the remainder of his four-year term.

Meanwhile, the job cuts are necessary to avoid raising property taxes, he said.

Most of the 100 positions on the chopping block, including 19 in the police department, already are vacant but as many as 35 employees could be looking at layoff notices next year to close an estimated $10 million shortfall. Condon said none of the layoffs would come from the police or firefighting forces.

"This is a flat budget," he said during a noon rollout of the proposed $164.5 million general fund budget, which essentially is the city's discretionary spending plan. Condon expects to unveil a separate capital budget later.

The final budget is subject to City Counci approval.

The mayor's proposal is posted on the city's website and includes year-to-year spending patterns, descriptions of each city program's goals, and performance measures that Condon will use to determine whether departments are being operated effectively.

Programs and services being eyed for the chopping block include the city's one-person arts department, the weights and measures bureau and the East Central Community Center.

Condon said discussions already are under way with state officials over how it would pick up weights and measures duties in Spokane -- the only Eastern Washington city it doesn't already provide those services in -- if the city eliminates its department. The city also is working with nonprofit groups who might be interested in taking over operations of the East Central Community Center, which is how the city's other community centers are operated.

The mayor plans to conduct public hearings in the months ahead before formally presenting the City Council with a line-item budget proposal in October.

David Wasson oversees coverage of politics and state and local government and assists with editing on the City Desk.

Follow David online: