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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Commissioners ready to drop pact with Spokane Tribe over proposed casino

Spokane County commissioners today are likely to terminate a 2010 agreement that prevented them from taking a stance on a proposed second tribal casino in Airway Heights. The action follows a vote this week by Airway Heights officials to undo the agreement, which created a formula of payments to the city and the county instead of taxes if the Spokane Tribe is able to build a casino.

Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Facility may close

Spokane County commissioners are pulling their funding from Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Facility in Medical Lake, a move that threatens to close the lockup that has served nine counties in Eastern Washington. Spokane County would save $319,000 a year at a time when commissioners are facing an annual budget squeeze.

French, Mielke ask to reverse casino deal

Two Spokane County commissioners are asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs to overturn a 2010 contract that prevents the county from taking sides on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino in Airway Heights. County Commissioners Al French and Todd Mielke voted on Oct. 24 to send the request to the BIA’s new top official, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn.

County monitoring Harley Douglass fraud investigation

Spokane County Commissioner Al French said Friday that he and his fellow commissioners are keeping an eye on a criminal fraud investigation involving a settlement paid by the county to a local developer, but commissioners will not take action to recover the money unless a conviction is obtained. Court documents say developer Harley Douglass submitted false invoices to bolster a $685,000 settlement paid by the county after the county illegally blocked Douglass’ final plat for a subdivision in the Mead area in 2008.

County denied voice on casino

Airway Heights city officials have refused a request by Spokane County to unwind a 2010 agreement that prohibits county officials from taking sides on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino. The unanimous vote came at a recent Airway Heights City Council meeting where County Commissioner Al French argued the 2010 agreement illegally keeps the current county commissioners from expressing an opinion on the proposed casino.

Closing Geiger: Wise or worrisome?

On its face, moving inmates from the Spokane County jail system to a jail in Kennewick solves big problems. In the short term, local governments would save hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when they’re continuing to deal with difficult budget decisions.

Condon to keep salary at $100K for 2012

Spokane Mayor David Condon will hold his salary at $100,000 this year as promised, despite the recent controversy over his predecessor’s pay. But he said he will review his options and the city’s legal opinions and may take more next year.

County cuts preservation office funds

The Spokane historic preservation office will get only $5,000 from Spokane County in the $136.6 million 2012 budget county commissioners adopted Wednesday. The county has given $20,000 a year to the office since at least 2009, but will shift $15,000 to the Fox Theater next year. The money will reduce a multiyear county pledge to help restore the landmark theater as a regional performing arts venue.

Vote recount will test new machines

Spokane County election officials took advantage Thursday of an opportunity to test their vote-counting machines for free. The county Canvassing Board – Auditor Vicky Dalton, Commissioner Al French and County Attorney Jim Emacio – reversed course and decided to use the machines for a mandatory recount in a close Spokane City Council race.

Sewer rates should stand pat

A new report on Spokane County sewer charges may give ratepayers a sigh of relief. A consultant’s study shows no increase in adopted rates is necessary and small reductions are possible.

County passes helmet law

Spokane County commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring helmets for bicycling and other wheel sports in unincorporated areas. The law applies to children 3 through 15 years old, and carries no penalty.

County edits shelter proposal

A proposal to build a new regional animal shelter will be a ballot “measure,” not a “proposition,” in the Nov. 8 general election. Spokane County commissioners approved a new designation Tuesday to distinguish their property tax levy from Spokane’s citizen-proposed Proposition 1.

Waste disposal costs to rise

Revisions in the contract for operating Spokane’s garbage incinerator would contribute to a proposed 10.2 percent increase in countywide garbage disposal costs. County commissioners directed their staff Wednesday to take a hard look at a suggested $10-a-ton increase in disposal costs, from $98 to $108. But they leaned toward approval of a three-year extension of Wheelabrator Spokane’s contract to operate the Waste-to-Energy Plant.

County may pull head gear plan

County commissioners are tapping the brakes to avoid colliding with constituents who want to ride their motorcycles and bicycles without interference. Without once using the phrase “back-pedaling,” commissioners managed Tuesday to increase the distance between themselves and controversial legislation they requested.

Sheriff gets $128,000 for gear

Spokane County commissioners gave Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich $128,223 from reserves Tuesday – about one-third of the amount he requested for equipment and software. Knezovich requested $372,631 last week, but commissioners balked. This week, he pared the total to $257,121, but commissioners lopped off a couple of items they didn’t consider essential for officer safety.