OLYMPIA – State agencies would spend a total of $95 million on construction projects in Spokane County ranging from improvements at Mount Spokane to updates at Eastern Washington University, under a plan approved this week by the House of Representatives.
The proposed Capital Budget, which would spend a total of $3.5 billion around the state on projects other transportation, is often known as the state’s bricks and mortar budget that covers projects from many state agencies. It’s not as controversial as the operating budget, and passed the House on a 96-2 vote Thursday.
Mount Spokane State Park would get $6 million for Nordic ski area improvements and to develop a horse camp, $2.5 million to relocate a maintenance facility and another $2.4 million for improvements on roads that are facing failure.
Included in the spending plan is nearly $24 million for a list of infrastructure renewal, facility preservation and building maintenance projects at Eastern Washington University, and $3.3 million for improvements at Eastern State Hospital. The state Veterans Cemetery would get about $2.7 million for an upgrade and the Marshall Landfill would get $5 million from the Department of Ecology cleanup fund.
A late addition to the list of Spokane County projects was $1.5 million for the Fairchild Air Force Base Protection and Community Empowerment Project, which would be used to buy two mobile home parks within a protected area near the base, so the land could be rezoned for light industrial use. Local government and business leaders consider the mobile home parks property an encroachment that could put the base at a disadvantage in a future round of base closures.
Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said the money would help protect the mission of the base and position it for the future, and made adding the money for the empowerment zone one of his top priorities.
In 2013, Spokane County commissioners had a more extensive plan and asked voters to approve a property tax increase to raise $18 million to buy seven mobile home parks in and around the zone and relocate the residents. More than half the voters said yes, but it didn’t get the super-majority needed for a property tax increase.
The Senate hasn't voted on a Capital Budget yet. To see the full proposal, as well as lists or maps of the projects for any county or legislative district, click here.