Spokane Valley lawmakers have outlined the framework for a new stakeholder group to help officials determine how much to invest into citywide road maintenance.
As it stands, the Streets Sustainability Committee would have 20 members from different sectors of the community, including business, education, nonprofit and citizen representatives.
Once formed, the city will use the group to help gather public input on the preferred level of street maintenance, associated costs and funding methods, said Adam Jackson, the city’s planning and grants engineer. Jackson said the city also plans to incorporate public workshops and information campaigns.
“It becomes a group message rather than a staff- or council-directed message,” Jackson said. “We’re following the feedback we get from our residents and our businesses.”
Council members were presented Tuesday with the following roster for a 20-member committee:
• Two members for each category representing general business, small businesses, social services/nonprofits and utility companies; three members representing large businesses;
• Three citizen representatives;
• Three representatives from the transportation industry;
• One member each representing schools, hospitals and freight haulers.
Describing the process as “fluid,” however, Jackson said the committee’s makeup is subject to change between now and March 23, the tentative date the City Council is expected to formalize the committee.
In the meantime, the city will seek applications from residents who would like to sit on the committee. More information on the application process is expected to be released within the next few days.
Mayor Ben Wick, who is working with city staff to develop the stakeholder group, said he is hoping the committee can cover a diverse range of viewpoints, from longtime residents to those new to the area.
“Public safety and transportation are our top two priorities of the city,” Wick said in an interview Thursday, “so we’re looking to hear from the city and the citizens to know what type of direction we should be going in.”
The committee represents the city’s latest effort after years of Spokane Valley City Council debate on how to approach road funding.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilwoman Linda Thompson questioned whether first responders, including police and fire, should be represented on the committee.
Jackson said public safety representatives could end up with seats as the process develops – though first responders will have input either way.
“As staff, we have more readily available relationships with those agencies and first responders,” Jackson said, “so from a staff and council perspective, it may be easier to gain or obtain their input without their presence on this committee.
“They haven’t been excluded by any means.”
Council members also discussed how the committee would function given that the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce is administrating a Regional Transportation Coalition.
Jackson said the chamber will likely be invited in some capacity to have a presence on Spokane Valley’s Streets Sustainability Committee.
Regardless, city officials will keep an eye on the chamber’s initiatives, including talks of a regional transportation benefit district, Deputy City Manager John Hohman told council members Tuesday.
“There’s been other proposals in the past for that, and that may be an option or a direction that the council may want to go into in the future, but we will keep the Spokane Valley-centric focus in our committee and we’ll manage that crossover pretty carefully,” Hohman said. “I want to make sure there’s enough room for both to exist.”
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