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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane City Council will reconsider regional collaboration it rejected in September for social services center

Spokane City Hall.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane City Hall. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Spokane City Council will consider funding the same lease for the social services-oriented Resource Center of Spokane County it rejected just two months ago.

City officials are once again asking the council to sign off on an agreement Monday that would split the cost of the center’s lease between the city of Spokane, Spokane County and the Spokane Workforce Council.

The council turned down the deal in September, leaving the city of Spokane the only holdout in what many elected leaders expect to be a regional collaboration.

The Resource Center of Spokane County – formerly the Spokane Resource Center – opened in 2019, billed as a “one-stop shop” for people accessing social services. More than a dozen nonprofits have a presence in the facility at 130 S. Arthur Street in east Spokane. They offer help like directing people to substance abuse treatment programs or accessing housing.

The proposed lease funding agreement would require the city to pay one-third of the lease cost through May 2023, a total of $448,000.

Monday’s scheduled vote will be a test of whether the objections council members aired in September still stand. The council voted down the agreement by a 4-3 vote, so only one member needs to change his or her position to move it forward.

In a meeting last week, Councilwoman Lori Kinnear reiterated concerns she had that the agreement was lengthy. She has argued that the resource center was opened on a pilot basis, but that the council has never been provided data that proves its efficacy.

The Spokane Workforce Council, which operates the resource center, has presented to the City Council and touted its progress even through a pandemic. It’s provided the council with data showing it’s assisted more than 7,000 people through more than a dozen agencies that offer services at the resource center.

Several council members have sought assurances that the resource center eventually will become self-sufficient and no longer require financial support from the local governments.

Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson said the center should know whether it’s sustainable without government support by next year, but that the proposed agreement locks the city in for two years.

“Are we being really prudent or kind of speculating a little bit for the second year?” Wilkerson asked.

Council President Breean Beggs voiced support for the resource center and the lease agreement, and said the center is working to become self-sufficient. He noted that before this year, the city was funding the program on its own.

“We have substantially changed the city’s financial position,” Beggs said.

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