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Marijuana advocates say Spokane has quickly earned a new nickname: Spokansterdam, a nod to the Dutch city where the sale and use of marijuana is legal.
A group that sponsored a ballot proposal that was thoroughly rejected by Spokane voters in 2009 says it hopes to offer voters a shorter list of requests this year. Gone from Envision Spokane’s new “Community Bill of Rights” are stipulations for the city of Spokane to guarantee its residents affordable preventive health care, affordable housing, affordable and renewable energy and regulations on local banks.
When a significant West Plains annexation agreement was reached a year and a half ago, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner hailed it as a sign of improved intergovernmental cooperation. Indeed, the major local entities involved – Spokane, Airway Heights and Spokane County – appeared to strike a deal with less than the usual acrimony that happens when tax bases are juggled. So, at the end of this year, 10 square miles that includes Spokane International Airport will become part of Spokane, the city’s largest annexation in a century. Spokane also will gain some commercially developing property along U.S. Highway 2, and Airway Heights will expand by half a square mile. Spokane County, on the other hand, will lose both area and revenue, but it’s all consistent with the state’s Growth Management Act, which expects incorporated cities to absorb adjacent land that’s needed for the next 20 years’ development.
The state of Spokane County isn’t as bad as it might have been and things are looking up, county commission Chairman Al French said Friday. French told some 215 business and civic leaders that Spokane County finished 2010 in better financial condition than other counties in the state and the nation.
Spokane’s first fire station on the West Plains won’t be the usual classy brick structure typical of the city’s other 14 stations. It will be a double-wide mobile home.
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner has her first official opponent in this year’s mayoral race. Christopher W. Fenton, 32, filed paperwork last month announcing his intention to run for the city’s highest office, becoming the first potential challenger eligible to begin accepting campaign contributions.
Spokane leaders have a new idea for solving their budget woes: Give up the Spokane Fire Department. Mayor Mary Verner has formed a committee to study the creation of a fire district to replace the fire department, which has served the city since 1884. The district would mirror the city’s borders and have its own taxing authority and governing board.
Mayor Mary Verner is promising to change the city’s permitting process in a new initiative unveiled last week in her State of the City address last week. Business concerns over permitting were highlighted last year after the owners of a bed and breakfast in the West Central Neighborhood said they were forced to close because the city’s “change of use” process became a nightmare of miscommunication and bureaucracy. City officials said they were simply following fire code and other laws but acknowledged a need to streamline the process.
The Spokane City Council on Monday approved one new tax and delayed a decision on another. The council voted 4-3 for a $20-a-year tax on vehicles registered in Spokane, capping months of debate and reversing its 4-3 vote opposing the tax last month.
In her State of the City address on Friday, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner announced that the city was “leaning forward,” which, as we all know, is the first move a drunk makes before falling flat onto his nose. As a professional community observer, I think I know what is causing Mayor Verner to be so pessimistic.
A proposal to ask voters for a library tax appears unlikely to make the ballot after Mayor Mary Verner and her staff urged council members last week to consider a broader property tax that could also boost the police and fire budgets. “We don’t want to be faced with potential closures of branches again next year,” Verner told the City Council. “But we also don’t want to be faced with additional layoffs.”
With only three summers worth of projects left on the city’s 10-year street bond project, Spokane officials are starting to draw up plans for another round of road reconstruction for the next potential street property tax. The 2004 street bond will have paid for $110 million worth of projects when work is completed. It’s been deemed by most political leaders as one of the city’s greatest successes of the past decade. Administrators say they expect work to be completed on time and on or under budget.
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner today sounded a hopeful note for financial recovery in her fourth State of the City address. Her speech last year focused on “positioning” the city for recovery.
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner today sounded a hopeful note for financial recovery in her fourth State of the City address.
An organizer of Spokane’s annual march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. criticized community leaders Tuesday for not opening an honest dialogue about race issues after last month’s march was targeted with a bomb. “What do we say to our kids?” said Ivan Bush, a longtime civil rights leader in Spokane. “What do we say to them about that day when a community stood up with a hump in the back and didn’t make a real statement? What do we say to them? How do we go back and face them and talk about the greatness of a community? We can’t in a legitimate way. We did not when the time was there. I’m hurt. I’m pained, and I’m full of rage.”
Public officials throughout Spokane County agreed Thursday to create a new regional garbage-disposal system that might not use Spokane’s Waste-to-Energy Plant. A host of thorny details are to be worked out by a committee, but the basic framework is a regional board with authority to contract with Spokane or any other service provider.
Hoping to head off a new round of library closure talks or further cuts to branch hours, the Spokane Public Library is asking city leaders to sponsor a property tax boost on the April 26 ballot. The Spokane City Council will decide Feb. 14 if it will ask voters for an extra 15 cents for each $1,000 of taxable property value. If successful, the tax would generate an extra $2.3 million a year.