Spokane Valley approved its 2020 budget without taking a tax increase and adding an employee to enforce city codes.
Spokane Valley is one of the first large governments in the region to approve its budget, before both Spokane and Spokane County.
Spokane Valley’s budget is about $90 million, compared to Spokane County’s budget of about $750 million and the city of Spokane’s budget, which is $1.1 billion.
Spokane Valley’s budget includes far fewer employees, contracting most of its services out and employing under 100 people. Unlike neighboring governments, Spokane Valley also doesn’t employ a fire department or provide water, as both are provided by districts.
Public Safety is still the city’s largest expense, accounting for about 62% of its general fund, or about $26.6 million. Public safety includes law enforcement, courts, prosecution, public defense, animal control and jail services, which are provided through a contract with Spokane County.
The City Council unanimously approved the budget on Nov. 12. Local governments are allowed to take a 1% tax increase every year, and bank what they do not take. This is Spokane Valley’s 11th consecutive year forgoing a tax increase.
The city has added one and a half positions to its roster for a code enforcement officer and making a part-time attorney position to a full-time position to handle the increased workload. The city has budgeted for 95 employees in 2020. It also budgeted an additional $100,000 for a co-response police officer and behavioral health specialist team for the Spokane Valley Police Department. The Spokane Valley Police Department is also staffed with sheriff’s deputies through a contract with Spokane County.
Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins said the city has done what it can to keep its staff “lean” and keep costs down for taxpayers, but as Spokane Valley’s population grows, the city will need more employees.
“We’ll need more staff, but only when it’s required,” he said.
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