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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Valley foes end campaign

A grass-roots effort to kill the city of Spokane Valley is itself dead.

Tuesday evening, residents circulating petitions to put “disincorporation” to a public vote tallied their signatures and came up way short. They had 9,988 signatures on hand, and needed 13,877 more.

“We’ll end up with slightly more than 10,000,” said Sally Jackson, a petition organizer.

Jackson, the firebrand whip to undo the city that she once championed, met at North Pines Middle School to count signatures with three dozen of her strongest supporters. Even with a stack several inches thick of photocopied petition sheets, it was obvious the group had fallen short. Still, supporters waited nearly two hours for more to trickle in. And copies did come – collected from barber shops, veterinary hospitals and houses where supporters invited neighbors to stop and sign.

The final 40 to walk in the door took almost an hour.

Some residents blamed the weather. The petition drive was launched in March and was followed by rain.

The city’s detractors say creating the city was a bad move. Before Spokane Valley incorporated in March 2003, Spokane County ruled the area. Creating the Spokane Valley added another layer of government and didn’t improve government service, petition supporters said.

And petitioners discounted the vote in 2002 that lead to the city’s creation the following year. In that election, 10,272 people – or 51.4 percent of those who voted – chose to incorporate. The anti-city group thought a second vote was in order, and hoped that turnout would be better.

If a larger number of voters endorsed the city a second time, Jackson and others said they’d put the issue to rest.

Petitioners warned when the city was created that it might impose a utility tax. And while that hasn’t happened, it might, now that the petition drive has died, petitioner Steve Dickey said.

“They’ve been real quiet because of us,” Dickey said of the Spokane Valley City Council.

Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite, reached later in the evening at a City Council meeting, said the presence of the disincorporation effort has had absolutely no effect on the body’s decisions. Other council members nodded in agreement at the dais.

“The tax revenue had totally changed” from earlier estimates, Councilman Dick Denenny said of abandoned talks of a utility tax.

Of the disincorporation effort, Denenny said, “it’s really a non-issue to most people in the Valley.”

However, last March, the mayor and City Council took the disincorporation petition very seriously. They instructed the city attorney to examine what would happen if Spokane Valley disincorporated and publicly pointed out that the community would not instantly revert to county rule, but rather would go into receivership.

Jackson and other anti-city supporters vow to bring up disincorporation again. In the meantime, she encouraged petitioners to support council candidate Chuck Parker, who has said he would urge the City Council to put disincorporation on the ballot.

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