by Inlander Staff

The Facts on Tax -- Spokane - Bill Gates, Sr., president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be in Spokane on Wednesday, May 28, to speak on "Washington State Taxes: Reform Proposals." In collaboration with Gonzaga University, Gates Sr. will give his talk at the GU Dean's Business Forum with associate professor of economics John Beck.

"This is basically a report about the Washington State Tax Study Commission, and we'll be going over some of the deliberations," says Gates Sr.

In 2001, Gates Sr. chaired the Tax Structure Study Committee, which reviewed the state's tax structure and published reports about its strengths and weaknesses.

"We do talk about possible ways to replace the Business and Occupation tax and replace the sales tax burden, and a model for a value added tax, which is the typical European form of taxing sales activity," Gates Sr. says, noting that there's a "long list" of changes recommended for Washington's tax structure.

"The real backbone of what we have to say is the discouraging fact that our state's tax structure is the most regressive tax structure in the country," Gates Sr. says. "Low-income people pay much more of their income than high-income [people]."

Gates Sr. says he and professor Beck will speak about ideas that could have a significant effect on Spokane.

"One of the criteria is actually to reduce the degree of business taxation, which is quite high comparably. Another is to deal with the problem of border business and the problem people have with going to Idaho and Oregon."

The forum will be held as a breakfast meeting at 7 am. It is open to the public, but seating is limited. The cost is $12 and reservation must be made by Friday, May 23. Call 323-5991.

Moose Art -- Coeur d'Alene -- Expect to see lots of moose in the Lake City next spring. No, it's not a conservation project or an invasion of the chocolate kind. This is a project called "No Moose Left Behind," and consists of about 20 full-size fiberglass renditions decorated by local artists and displayed around Coeur d'Alene next May. The moose will be set up in the city for the summer of 2004 before they are auctioned off to raise money for EXCEL, Extras to Create Excellence in Learning, a local foundation that awards grants for Coeur d'Alene school district 271.

"We've funded over $519,000 worth of grants," says project chair and EXCEL board member Lonne Jordahl. "It's our goal, as we have a growing population, to continue to fund requests." Jordahl says the EXCEL Foundation typically receives 30 to 40 grant requests a year.

"We would like to raise thousands of dollars," Jordahl says of the "No Moose Left Behind" project. "Other cities have raised anywhere from a hundred to several hundred thousand dollars."

Jordahl says there will be a juried arts selection later this year to determine which area artists will design the moose.

Market Watch -- Spokane -- Spokane Market Place will sell its locally grown produce and crafts at a new location this summer. The market's new home will be 809 N. Washington St., just north of the Spokane River.

"We're anticipating 50 to 60 vendors this summer," says Jackie Rappe, director of Spokane Market Place. "We'll have an indoor and an outdoor location."

This is the fifth move in the market's 12-year history, and Rappe says she hopes it's the last. But even before the Spokane Market Place has been able to open the indoor section of its new building, factions of vendors have struck off on their own.

"There's been one delay after another, and as we speak [the indoor market] still is not open," says Jonelle Widener, a member of the newly formed Vendor Group. "We just didn't feel we could keep waiting because of all the delays."

The Vendor Group announced recently their market is open on the corner of Market and Garland at 3818 N. Market Street. Widener says the Vendor Group didn't anticipate a successful summer at the new Spokane Market Place location.

"Previously, there were agreements made with the Parks Department leasing the facility to the Spokane Market Place," Widener explains "Then at the 11th hour, they [the Parks Department] reneged on some of the agreements that were part of the negotiations [for that] lease."

Widener says there were about eight vendors from the Spokane Market Place who broke off to start the new market.

Publication date: 05/22/03

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