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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County, City To Meet Over Gangs Council Will Discuss Funding For Gang Prosecution Team

The city and county of Spokane are linking legal arms to fight the war on drugs and gangs.

County commissioners plan to join the City Council tonight for a special meeting about the gang prosecution team proposed by Prosecutor Jim Sweetser.

Sweetser is trying to form a special gang-prosecution unit that would work with police and sheriff’s deputies of the city-county drug and gang task force.

So far, commissioners are balking at giving the prosecutor’s office more money to form the team, instead asking Sweetser pay for the two attorneys out of existing monies.

The council is considering donating $10,000 worth of legal services to the county - in effect freeing up money for gang prosecutions.

Under the city’s proposal, legal aid comes in the form of city attorneys who would represent city and county police officers jointly involved in civil suits.

The city uses its own attorneys to defend officers, but the county hires outside legal help, said City Attorney James Sloane.

Instead of going to the expense of using two attorneys, a city attorney would “represent the deputy as well. They’re covering the same ground, doing the same work,” Sloane said.

“We’re sharing resources, and, in the end, taxpayers get more service.”

During last week’s briefing, Councilman Chris Anderson asked Sloane how city taxpayers’ would be protected from writing the county a “blank check.”

Sloane told Anderson his office would carefully choose cases that, if contracted out, would cost the county about $10,000 in legal fees.

“If it’s going to be something that’s going to be a huge cost, we’ll bow out,” said Mayor Jack Geraghty.

Also tonight, the council will:

Set a hearing on a proposed downtown parking and improvement district.

Downtown business leaders recently gave the council a petition signed by 500 business and property owners in favor of creating the district.

The district aims to bring back about 300 parking meters and spend about $675,000 per year to attract more shoppers and maintain the downtown.

More than 1,000 cities across the country have created such self-taxing districts to revitalize their downtowns, proponents say.

Opponents say it will benefit a select number of businesses involved in a proposed retail shopping complex on Main between Post and Lincoln.

The proposed improvement district would create three taxing areas.

Businesses in the central core would pay 22 cents per square foot per year. Those in the outer zone would pay 7 and 10 cents per square foot, depending on the type of business.

The entire district - roughly from Maple Street to Division, and from Broadway on the north to the railway viaduct on the south - would be called a parking and business improvement area.

Property owners and hotels also would be taxed.

If the plan is approved, the city would contribute about $200,000 per year from parking meter revenue.

Consider a request by residents of historic Cannon’s Addition for a nine-month reprieve from new apartments.

Consider a short-term contract leasing the north span of Howard Street Bridge and the north bank of the river in Riverfront Park to the Spokane MarketPlace.

The Park Board recently agreed to give the market a chance at peddling its wares in the park. At the end of May, MarketPlace organizers must go back before the board to fine-tune the proposal.

With the council’s approval, the market would pay the city rent equal to 15 percent of the rent it collects from vendors.

Delay acting on a proposal to revamp the council’s meeting schedule. Council members decided they needed more time to study the changes.

The council’s briefing session begins at 5:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor conference room of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Boulevard.

The special meeting with commissioners starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers, and the regular meeting should start by 7 p.m.

xxxx MEETING Special meeting with commissioners begins at 6 p.m.; the regular council meeting starts afterward, at about 7 p.m. Both meetings are at City Hall.

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