The Spokane City Council agreed Monday to name the Salvation Army as the operator of new emergency shelter space, without knowing exactly where that shelter will be located.
The council delayed the decision the previous week due to confusion over Mayor David Condon's administration's plan for a new shelter and warming centers. But City Council President Ben Stuckart this time characterized the decision to name Salvation Army as the operator as a necessary step in the process.
"I've seen a lot of movement in the last week and I'm comfortable with everything moving forward. And this is just one step in the process," Stuckart says.
The vote, which passed 5-1, still did not approve any contract, but allows city staff to prepare a contract with the Salvation Army as the city nails down a location for shelter space. Once a contract is negotiated, the council would need to approve it along with funding to lease a shelter location. The council is also anticipating the same process for at least one warming center location, yet to be determined, with Jewels Helping Hands as the expected operator.
Councilwoman Kate Burke, however, said Monday that she still didn't have enough information to support naming the Salvation Army as the shelter operator. She was the only member to vote against it.
"We still don't have the information we asked for last week," Burke says.
Stuckart suggested that it would be a bad look for the council not to approve the Salvation Army as the operator as the urgency for a new shelter mounts.
"I guarantee you that if this doesn't pass tonight, then we will be blamed," Stuckart says.