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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Guild, city of Spokane spar over layoffs

Spokane Police Guild leaders this week sent a strong message to Mayor Mary Verner: We dare you. In a letter received by Verner on Thursday, Guild President Ernie Wuthrich warned that if any guild members are laid off, the union will challenge those job losses with the state Public Employment Relations Commission.

City layoff list puts 120 workers at risk

Spokane administrators next week will inform about 120 workers that they will lose their jobs by the end of the year. Some could be demoted but remain on the city payroll.

Parking tax debate turns to growth

It could cost more to park in private lots in central Spokane if city leaders get behind ideas to tax downtown lots. The parking tax concept is in flux, with suggestions for annual fees ranging from $10 to more than $100 a year per space, said Marty Dickinson, president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, which opposes a parking tax.

State probe targets city CFO

The State Board of Accountancy is investigating Spokane’s chief financial officer, Gavin Cooley, because of a city Web site that listed him as a certified public accountant, his former designation. Cooley let his CPA license expire in 2006, but until early this month a city Web site devoted to the city’s investment policy listed Cooley as a CPA.

State investigates city of Spokane Web site

The State Board of Accountancy is investigating a city Web site that mistakenly listed Spokane’s chief financial officer, Gavin Cooley, as a certified public accountant.

Officials hail city’s improved bond rating

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said Friday she’s confident the city will maintain its new higher bond rating despite dire 2010 budget projections. Standard & Poor’s informed the city this week that it has upgraded the city’s bond rating to AA from AA-.

Audit finds oversight problems

State auditors have found “significant deficiencies” in the city of Spokane’s oversight of federal money, according to a report released this week. In the audit, the state questioned more than $350,000 of grant money the city used to pay for staff and administrative time within the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council because employee time was documented incorrectly.

City offers unions grim alternatives

City and union leaders talk a lot about cooperation and communication these days. But as time inches closer to deciding how to cut $7 million from Spokane’s 2010 budget, employee unions are being presented with a harsh choice already familiar to those in the private sector: Cut pay or face layoffs.

Police ponder budget reductions for 2010

Spokane police were told Thursday to begin thinking creatively about spending cuts next year that could top $2 million. Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Mayor Mary Verner and Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley held a closed-door meeting with more than 100 members of the department, both commissioned and civilian, to say that the budget looks steady for 2009 but cuts may be coming in 2010.

Officials in no rush to boost levies

Cities, counties and other government entities that rely on property taxes could raise their levies by 6 percent in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling striking down a voter imposed lid of 1 percent. But that doesn't mean they will, government officials throughout Eastern Washington said. Spokane Chief Operating Officer Gavin Cooley said the city's proposed 2008 budget will maintain a 1 percent increase. But administrators plan to ask the City Council to pass an ordinance that would reserve the right to take the full increase in the future, he said.