Learn about streets, parks funding proposal

Refinancing plan pays for significant new work at current tax rate

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, (509) 625-6505

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

The City of Spokane has set a series of meetings to provide citizens with opportunities to learn about and comment on a new refinancing proposal to maintain and rebuild streets and reinvigorate Riverfront Park.

Spokane Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart announced the streets and parks refinancing proposal last week. The proposal provides significant new work for the community for the same amount of money citizens pay today for streets and parks.

Currently, Spokane’s citizens pay 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value toward the repayment of three street and park bonds. With strategic refinancing, the dollars generated could be used to provide:

  • $25 million annually for street funding. That level of spending, which includes matching funding, would maintain the level of work completed annually on arterials and residential streets under the 2004 Street Bond.
  • $60 million for implementation of the new Riverfront Park Master Plan, which was developed with considerable public input. Retirement of the current debt.
  • “Just as citizens have refinanced their homes and used the savings to make other investments, we are proposing sustainable funding for streets and reinvigorating our parks all without asking citizens to reach deeper into their pockets,” Mayor Condon said.

Meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, May 13, Westview Elementary School, 3520 W. Bismark, 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 15, City Council Chambers, lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd, 5:30 p.m. This meeting will be taped for replay on CityCable 5.
  • Tuesday, May 20, Jefferson Elementary School, 123 E. 37th Ave., 6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 22, West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, 5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 27, Lidgerwood Elementary School, 5510 N. Lidgerwood St., 5510 N. Lidgerwood St., 6:30 pm.
  • Wednesday, May 28, Southside Senior Center, 3151 E. 27th Ave., 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 29, Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St., 5:30 p.m.

The meetings will include information on the funding proposal, as well as on the projects that are anticipated. Citizens will be asked to provide feedback on what’s important to them.

“Citizens consistently remind us how important streets are to them,” Stuckart said. “They also talk about reinvigorating Riverfront Park, which has been a great community asset over the past four decades. They want us to maintain what we have and make improvements to the street and park systems. This proposal meets both of those needs and fulfills an important citizen priority.”

Spokane citizens currently are repaying the 2004 Street Bond, the 2007 Pools and Play Bond, and the 1999 Park Bond. That includes 57 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $57 a year on a $100,000 home, for repayment of the 2004 Street Bond. Payments are currently scheduled to continue for another 16 years without any additional street improvements.

For that same 57 cents per $1,000 of value, a levy would generate around $5 million a year to fund new street work. Those funds would be matched with state, local, and federal transportation and utility dollars to support about $25 million in street improvements annually.

A similar refinancing opportunity is possible for parks. Citizens currently pay 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $34 a year on a $100,000 home, for repayment of the parks bonds. Some park bond payments are scheduled to continue through 2027, without any additional park enhancements. For that same 34 cents per $1,000 of value, a new bond would provide $60 million to implement the new Riverfront Park Master Plan and still pay off the remaining debt from the 2007 issue.

The streets and parks refinancing proposal is another component of a strategy to align needs to resources while keeping services affordable to citizens. The City has compiled a list of infrastructure needs in a 6-year Citywide Capital Plan and is working on a comprehensive strategy to address the $732 million in needs. Other pieces include a realistic plan for utilities while limiting rate increases to inflation and the start of a much-needed replacement fund for police and fire vehicles.