Tuesday AM Recap 11/7/11: Trash Rates & Revenue Hearing

Let’s start with our long list of unanimous ‘yes’ votes last night:

- Two emergency budget ordinances (one for a Park Dept. job classification change and one accepting a contribution from Gonzaga University for a pedestrian crossing upgrade)

- Setting a hearing for a property vacation request from Avista

- Setting the assessment roll hearing for the Downtown Parking and Business Improvement Area

- Approving a trail easement at the Dwight Merkel complex

- A resolution requesting a hearing in Spokane regarding the Hanford Nuclear Plant

- Two actions relating to lewd conduct and urinating in public (basically removing urinating in public as a sex offense and giving it separate classification in the City code)

- Approval of funding allocations suggested by the Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax committee

What we didn’t vote on unanimously was a 4.3% increase to solid waste rates. Councilmembers McLaughlin, Corker, and Apple have voted against all utility rate changes this year and last night was no exception. The rest of the Council voted to raise rates to reflect the increased tipping fee approved by the County Commissioners last week and the slight increase in cost that will result from the City’s switch to single-stream recycling next year. Single-stream recycling represents an important step forward for the City and and a large increase in service for our citizens. Most ratepayers with 32 gallon bins will see just a 61 cent increase next year. Due to the lowering of rates for 32 gallon bins implemented with our new rate structure last year the price customers with 32 gallon bins will pay next year is still below that of what they paid in 2006. I believe this is fair and a smart business decision for our solid waste utility and that is why I voted for the rate change.

After this vote we had an extensive presentation on the City’s revenue picture. Some of it is contained in the Mayor’s budget presentation here. In a nutshell the revenue shortfall of the last few years will still be a problem next year.

If you watched the entire three hours meeting on channel 5 last night you may have heard Council President Shogan’s statement calling for the Chair of the State Republican Party to resign. Council President Shogan was upset over remarks the state chair made to the media about “taking out” Mayor Verner. While I question the whether last night’s meeting was the appropriate venue for these remarks and I certainly would have stated them differently, the Council President’s core concern about civility in political discourse and the ramifications of using violence-tinged language in reference to an elected official is certainly a concern I share and feel strongly about. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a deranged individual less than one year ago after she was targeted with similar political language. Anyone who thinks there is no connection between this sort of rhetoric and actual threats to elected officials is ignoring reality. I commend Council President Shogan for taking a stand on this issue even if I don’t agree with exactly how he did it.


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