Spokane County commissioners will get two proposals instead of one when freeholders finish their review of local government.
The majority of the 25 freeholders will send commissioners a charter that would consolidate Spokane city and county government under one county council and an elected executive.
That’s the proposal commissioners most likely will put on the ballot.
But four freeholders who don’t think voters will approve consolidation announced Thursday that they’ll give commissioners a minority report, urging a three-tiered proposal. Voters could adopt the first tier, the first two or all three.
The third tier is identical to the majority’s proposal, while the two others are less sweeping.
“With this, there’s an increased chance of getting something (passed),” said freeholder Kathy Reid. “It’s win, place or show.”
Reid said commissioners could put either the minority or majority proposal on the ballot, but not both. The freeholders’ attorney was not at the meeting to confirm that commissioners could select the minority proposal.
Under the first tier of the minority proposal, Spokane city and county would remain separate, though their planning departments would join. County residents would gain the right to put initiatives on the ballot.
The second tier would replace the county commissioners with 13 county council members and an executive. City and county residents would vote on full consolidation within five years.
Freeholders who support the majority’s charter said voters would be confused by the tiers, and likely would vote against all three.
Freeholder Mike Senske, owner of Painted Hills Golf Course, compared voters to his customers.
“I just got a newsletter from a national organization that said, `Stop offering multiple options in your pro shop,”’ Senske said. “Offer hot dogs, not hot dogs and five other things.”
“Voters aren’t stupid,” said Sue Kaun, a co-author of the minority report. “And voters really need to be the ones who make a choice about the form of government they want.”
In addition to Kaun and Reid, Bill Anderson and Kathleen Nuffer coauthored the minority report. Freeholders Karen Ann Baker and Charlie Greenwood said they support it.
Freeholder Eric Anderson presented another alternative that won’t be presented to commissioners. It called for the city and county to remain separate, with an executive board to decide some regional issues.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.