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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County edits shelter proposal

Changes emphasize levy’s goal, automatic termination

A proposal to build a new regional animal shelter will be a ballot “measure,” not a “proposition,” in the Nov. 8 general election.

Spokane County commissioners approved a new designation Tuesday to distinguish their property tax levy from Spokane’s citizen-proposed Proposition 1.

Commissioner Todd Mielke said he feared the controversial Spokane “bill of rights” will generate numerous “Vote no on Prop 1” signs. Before it became “Measure 1,” the county proposal also would have been “Prop 1.”

Other changes in the ballot language made Tuesday were intended to reassure voters that the proposed tax levy will last no more than nine years and can’t be used for anything except the new animal shelter.

The ballot title will specify that the levy is to be used “exclusively” to replace the regional animal shelter and that it will “automatically terminate within nine years or less unless reauthorized by public vote.”

Mielke said the reference to reauthorization was intended to answer critics who contend commissioners will find a way to extend the levy regardless of automatic termination.

Commissioner Mark Richard feared the redundant language would have the opposite effect.

He thought any reference to “renewal” might encourage future commissioners to ask voters to extend the tax on grounds that “this isn’t a new tax, it’s a renewal.”

Commissioner Al French said he saw both sides of the verbiage dilemma, but took comfort in the fact that voters would have the last word.

If approved, the levy would cost up to 5.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for up to nine years. That would be enough to cover new construction, but renovation of an existing building is expected to reduce the cost about one-third.

Commissioners expect the levy rate or duration, or both, to be substantially less than the maximums.

French and Mielke voted for the revised language.

Richard, who didn’t want to put the measure on the ballot in the first place, voted no.

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