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Spokane City Council votes to remove safety levy from August ballot – Washington

Spokane City Council votes to remove safety levy from August ballot – Washington

(The Center Square) – The Spokane City Council voted unanimously during a special meeting Thursday to remove Mayor Lisa Brown’s Community Safety Levy from the August ballot.

The decision follows Brown’s announcement on Wednesday that she would extend the timeline for introducing the controversial levy. If passed, it would have cost taxpayers $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Last week, the council voted 5-2 to include the levy on the August ballot. Now, after Thursday’s special meeting, the council will ask the Spokane County Auditor to remove it.

“The topic of a new property tax is unsettled due to a lack of information we as a Council wanted,” Council President Betsy Wilkerson said in a statement after the meeting. “Since the vote in April, we have listened to the voices of the community and had additional conversations with my fellow council members. Removing this measure from the August ballot is a smart decision. We simply need more input and more information.”

Brown previously stated that about 200 employees could lose their jobs or be laid off if the city fails to implement the measure. With the vote on the levy postponed until at least November, the future of those careers could be in question.

Councilor Michael Cathcart, an outspoken opponent of the mayor’s levy, said he is glad the mayor listened to her constituents and chose to postpone the vote until later; However, he expressed disappointment that the City Council has postponed a parks levy several times, most recently last week, to drum up more support for Brown’s levy.

“Of course I support this,” Cathcart said. “It shouldn’t have been on the ballot in the first place.”

Councilor Jonathan Bingle suggested Brown’s administration would change its approach in the future, indicating a new levy may not be what the city needs. Bingle said he plans to make proposals to address the city’s growing general fund deficit in the near future.

“It wasn’t ready for prime time, that’s what we were trying to say,” he said. “We don’t just have a general fund problem; we have a citywide problem.”

Councilman Paul Dillon said Spokane’s growing population has growing needs.

“You’re never going to do more with less,” Dillon said, “you’re going to do less with less.”

He called the decision a Pyrrhic victory. Dillon said things will only get worse for neighborhoods struggling with available resources if the city fails to bring in more revenue.