David Condon

Local cities call for return of revenue for public safety

David Condon, Mayor, No Phone Number Available

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 3:10 p.m.

We have worked hard to make Spokane safer. But as the City continues making real progress, we find ourselves asking, “How do we balance the critical public safety needs we face without dollars we have previously counted on?” Cities across eastern Washington are asking themselves the same question.

That is why I and the rest of the Association of Northeast Washington Mayors are urging our state Legislature to protect badly needed revenue for public safety staff and equipment in our cities.

Over the past two biennium, the Legislature has redirected more than $200 million in liquor tax revenue away from Washington's cities and counties. The revenue lost is substantial – nearly $13 million among cities here in northeastern Washington alone, including Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Airway Heights, Liberty Lake, Chewelah, Rosalia, and Reardan. These communities rely on that revenue as a way to meet critical public safety needs.

All of our cities are working very hard to make our citizens' dollars go farther while delivering consistent and better service. Without the shared revenue, the City of Spokane, for example, has looked elsewhere to hire new police officers and firefighters and buy equipment and vehicles. But looking elsewhere comes at the expense of other programs and at greater cost to our citizens. In Spokane, we would likely not have had to ask our citizens to reach a little deeper into their pockets to buy public safety equipment and vehicles.

Restoring shared revenues to our cities will help us provide the public safety services our citizens demand and deserve. Thanks to assistance from the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), the Association of Northeast Washington Mayors is finalizing a letter that will go out to our Legislative delegation requesting their help. Association members are also working with the statewide effort – called Strong Cities, Great State – to maintain and grow the strong partnership between the state and its cities and towns.

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