Council comes out swinging at Mayor's budget proposal; Mayor res - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Council comes out swinging at Mayor's budget proposal; Mayor responds

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Spokane city council responds to mayor's budget proposal Spokane city council responds to mayor's budget proposal
SPOKANE, Wash. - "I can't in good conscience vote for the mayor's budget proposal." That's how Spokane City Council President opened a news conference Friday morning. Against the background of a Spokane C.O.P.S. shop the entire city council officially responded to Mayor Condon's 2015 budget proposal. The mayor's proposal contains raises for himself, and several top-tier employees, including Spokane police chief Frank Straub. The mayor's salary would be increased by $7,000, bringing it to about $179,000.

The mayor's budget must be approved by the Spokane city council. The city council chose the C.O.P.S. shop to hold their news conference, as it factored into their overall message: the mayor, councilmember Amber Waldreff said, has decided to use money that could go to important city programs as raises. One of those programs, says the council, is the C.O.P.S. program. Council president Stuckart says the program is vital to the community, but has had its budget slashed in the past years. He says the council asked the mayor that $60,000 of the C.O.P.S. funding be restored so they can meet their basic needs. "The mayor said no," says Stuckart, "and chose a different priority: thousands of dollars in raises for political appointees."

When she took the podium, councilmember Karen Stratton announced that according to the census bureau in 2013 the median household income, in Spokane, was $47,486. She said 14.5% of the population in Spokane are living below the poverty rate. Then she said, "The mayor generates 3 times the median general income. I'm concerned about our citizens and our front line civil service employees."

The lone dissenter in Friday morning's news conference was Councilmember Mike Fagan. Fagan said, "everything I've seen is that the mayor is just following the law right now. The mayor shall be paid equal to the highest employee {Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams}." Councilmember Fagan said the council itself created this perfect storm through a combination of contract approvals, municipal codes and an outdated city charter. He wants a "very public" review of the charter to "determine how we're going to deal with compensation for the mayor."

Later Friday afternoon Spokane Mayor David Condon also called a news conference, which he began by saying, "there has been significant interest in this year's budget." The mayor says the budget does something that hasn't happened in Spokane for quite some time. "This budget," says Mayor Condon, "does not rely on reserves or layoffs to connect, to fill that gap." The mayor also said these raises, which seems to be the point of most contention, are built into the budget.

Both sides say they are willing to work with each other and are open to changes. The budget for next year must be presented and approved by the end of December.


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