Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CITY HALL EYEBALL: Council Declares Independence

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Budget negotiations, water rate adjustments: big decisions involving lots of money that impact most, if not all, Spokanites.

The two issues also lay at the core of attempts by the newly minted Spokane City Council to assert its independence from both the Condon administration and city staff.

Council members spoke last week of engineering their own water rate adjustments in response to a plan due soon by Mayor David Condon's office.

"We should come up with our own rate structure" to counter any proposal made by Condon, Council President Ben Stuckart said at Thursday's study session. "That's how government works."

At Friday's council goals retreat — more like an imprisonment in the basement briefing room — council members expressed frustration that they have little time to react to budget proposals made by Spokane mayors.

"We received the info the same time the media did," said Councilman Jon Snyder, referring to the city's budget overview last May.

Councilman Steve Salvatori recommended asking Condon to allow a council representative to be present for the budgeting process. And Councilman Mike Allen said the council needs to get "our own info and our own analysis" on budget matters to exercise its autonomy from city staff and the mayor's office.

Whether any of those actions can be executed remains to be seen, though the council does plan on discussing its new water rate structure at an upcoming study session.

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