While Spokane Valley briefly considered administering some of its own social service grants in an effort to have more leverage and local control over its programs, City Council voted Tuesday to continue collaborating with Spokane County.
In exchange for staying in Spokane County’s consortium, Spokane Valley was given a larger percentage of money for projects in its city limits and more representation on the board that makes decisions on how to spend that money.
If Spokane Valley City Council had voted to start its own program, it would have received slightly less money and had more responsibilities, though it would have had more control over the process.
If council had voted to seperate , the city would have received about $650,000 in Community Development Block Grants, or CDBG. But the city would have had to spend slightly more in administrative costs to hire and train new employees if it started its own program.
By staying, it will receive about $649,000, according to city documents.
On Tuesday the City Council voted 6-1 to enter into a three-year contract with the county to manage Spokane Valley’s CDBG program and administer other programs.
Several council members, including Pam Haley, Brandi Peetz, Rod Higgins and Mayor Ben Wick, said they would be open to trying out an independent city program in the future.
Peetz said she had been leaning toward doing so Tuesday, but worried that making such a large change during a pandemic could complicate the region’s response and cause confusion.
“If this came in a non-COVID situation, this would be different,” Peetz said.
She said she’d like to discuss the issue again before the next grant cycle.
Wick said some council members may have felt rushed and stressed about making such a big decision during the uncertainty of a pandemic, so he would prefer to restart the conversation as soon as a year and a half from now, to make sure City Council and city staff have as much time as they need to discuss the situation.
He said he’s also hopeful City Council and staff will have more time over the next year or so to talk to other cities that are similar in size to Spokane Valley to learn how they manage their programs.
“Hopefully we won’t be in a pandemic again (and) everyone (will be) more familiar and educated,” he said.
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