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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley mayor touches on year’s highlights during annual State of the City speech

Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley addresses the crowd Wednesday during her State of the City speech at CenterPlace Regional Event Center.  (Colin Tiernan/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley stressed her city’s commitment to local government basics Wednesday during a speech to business leaders and politicians.

In the Valley’s annual State of the City address, Haley said the City Council in the last year has focused on fiscal conservatism, road infrastructure, investing in park lands and addressing homelessness.

Conservative financial planning helped Spokane Valley get through the COVID-19 pandemic largely unscathed, Haley said. She said, even in the face of historic inflation and volatile tax revenues, the city’s budget remains in good shape.

“We have a long history of responsible fiscal management,” she said, noting that Spokane Valley has fewer employees per capita than any Washington city with more than 50,000 residents.

But while that employee count remains low, the City Council has recently added three employees dedicated to addressing homelessness.

Since the start of 2021, Spokane Valley has added a housing and homeless coordinator, an outreach specialist and a Spokane Valley Police Department officer who works full-time with homeless residents.

Rod Higgins, the city’s deputy mayor, summed up Spokane Valley’s homelessness response philosophy during his segment of the State of the City address.

“If a homeless person here in the Valley is genuinely trying to escape homelessness, we’re here to help,” Higgins said. “If not, they’re probably in the wrong place.”

Haley and Higgins also touched on the city’s road infrastructure efforts.

A $26 million project on Barker Road will, among other improvements, create a bridge that crosses the railroad tracks and eliminates train delays.

The State of the City also highlighted Spokane Valley’s recent parks investments.

Since late 2020, the City Council has acquired more than 40 acres near Flora Road, more than 17 acres in the Ponderosa neighborhood and more than 20 acres near East Valley Middle School.

All of those properties are expected to become parks.

In addition to those large purchases and donations, Spokane Valley acquired 3.5 acres from the Avista Corp. earlier this year.

That parcel could allow the city to build a pedestrian bridge across the Spokane River. Pedestrians and cyclists may one day be able to travel along a loop trail on the north and south sides of the river.