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Council overrides mayor’s sustainable energy ordinance veto

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 17, 2018

The Spokane City Council overrode Mayor David Condon’s veto of an ordinance that would push the city to switch to completely sustainable energy by 2030 in a 6-to-1 vote during the Northeast Community Center town hall Monday.

The ordinance would create an 11-member sustainability committee to develop a plan alongside local utility companies to achieve the 2030 energy goal. The committee also is tasked with updating a current sustainability plan and finding ways to limit the local impacts of climate change.

In his letter accompanying his veto, Condon said the council’s fiscal analysis was inadequate and could create costs to the city through staff hours and investing in renewable energy.

During the meeting, Councilman Mike Fagan was one of the few who spoke out against the ordinance. He called the fiscal analysis a glaring mistake, saying council members had multiple drafts of the legislation that should have addressed the errors before voting to override.

“Six council members had five opportunities to read this and allowed this mistake to go forward,” Fagan said.

Council President Ben Stuckart said the ordinance creates a committee to make a plan and won’t ring up costs for the city.

“Forming a committee to work on something and set a goal doesn’t cost any money,” Stuckart said.

Various elements of the ordinance, which is also designed to update a sustainability plan first approved under former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, have been opposed by the mayor before. Condon cited similar reasons when he chose to not sign an ordinance which would would have codified the sustainability plan’s goals last year.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Condon said he was “disappointed” the council overrode his veto instead of working with his office to revise the ordinance. He said the energy goal is important, but he hopes to revisit the legislation at a later date. In a phone interview Monday afternoon, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Condon’s concerns hadn’t changed since he vetoed the ordinance a week ago, but he will proceed with nominating the committee members, which is required under the ordinance.

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