Pin It
Favorite

Budget Blowup 

by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & pokane Mayor Mary Verner made her first State of the City address to the City Council last week with a sharp in-house metaphor for how unexpected events can slice up even the most meticulously planned local budget.





The second sentence in her 12-page report reads: "Let's start with a little show and tell. [Roll in cart of intake fan pieces.]"





Verner read the first part of the sentence and turned from the podium, expecting the parenthetical second part to come trundling down the aisle but had to ad-lib when an aide gave the wave-off that the metaphor wasn't going to arrive on cue.





Just as the sub-prime mortgage frenzy has blown up into a national banking and investment crisis, Verner pointed to the city's own decision to delay an expensive upgrade of a cooling fan, only to have it literally explode into a $500,000 emergency.





The City Hall heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems, installed in 1980, have been powered by a single massive intake fan that has strained for a generation to move air throughout the seven-story building. Officials knew it was old, but replacing it is expensive and complicated and the decision was made to push it to 2009.





Dennis Hubbard and the intake fan have aged together in the mechanical spaces behind the walls of City Hall. Hubbard, 61, has worked for the city since 1985 and has been the building engineer at City Hall for the last decade.





"We're both getting old," he says of the fan. Still, "the Friday before it come apart, if you asked me about it, I would have said it was running as good as it had ever run."


Kind of like Wall Street reaching record highs this year.





The fan exploded on Sept. 21, likely through metal fatigue. The sheet-metal housing around the fan contained the potentially lethal larger pieces, but city officials express relief that no one was in the room when the metal fragmented.





The City Council approved an emergency $500,000 this month to start work on a "fan wall" of nine smaller, more efficient fans that had been part of next year's Phase II of the HVAC remodel.





And even though the pieces of metaphor were not available for her address, Verner made her point that a disintegrating national economy means she'll be presenting a cautious budget to the council. One that leaves room for catastrophe.





[email protected]
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • The Landed and the White
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Do Something!
  • Do Something!

    Writers Resist, MLK Day activities and more ways to engage with your community
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • On the Street
  • On the Street

    Will you tip differently because of the minimum wage increase?
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Falls City Lights Helicopter Tour

Spokane Falls City Lights Helicopter Tour @ Spokane

Through March 31, 5-9 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • Thanks, Obama

    The legacy of the 44th President goes far beyond the election of the 45th
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

scandal


scandals


Comment


Briefs


green zone


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Grit and Will
  • Grit and Will

    How we move beyond the Rachel Dolezal sideshow
    • Jul 8, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation