Mayor Condon submits balanced budget sustaining police and firefighter hires

November 6, 2018

Spokane Mayor David Condon submitted a balanced budget last week with some small spending cuts yet increased funding for homelessness services following projections of higher revenue collections.

An earlier budget released in August was $3.8 million out of balance and included new investments in public safety as well as human services. In the updated line item budget proposal the administration submitted to the City Council last week, revenue projections grew by $2.8 million. That made for smaller cuts or transfers and brought the $197.7 million city general fund budget into the black.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said there were no major reductions in any one area and the administration, as well as individual departments, were able to tighten their budgets and reduce their expenditures.

“There’s little nips and tucks throughout that budget,” she said.

She said some budget changes, such as the $280,000 that went to the My Spokane program or the $722,000 that went to street maintenance from the general fund, have been shifted to other budgets due the types of issues the funds were being used for or increased revenues in other areas.

The difference in revenue projections between the August preliminary budget and the mayor’s in balance, line-item proposal is due to what revenue data is currently available, she said. She added that it is safer to estimate conservatively early in the year and update revenue numbers as more data arrives.

“It’s very normal to be out of balance in August and in balance by November,” she said.

The most recent budget still includes funding for 10 additional police officers and continued funding for 48 fire department positions hired through the Federal SAFER grant, which begins to expire in September of next year. The Spokane Fire Department was awarded the $9 million grant in 2016 and will need $1 million to pay fire fighters hired throughout the end of next year and at least $4 million to continue paying them through 2020.

Since Condon first took office in 2012, the Police Department has added 42 officers. The funding for 10 new hires included in next year’s budget will bring the total number of full-time officers from 328 to 338, according to budget documents.

Condon’s initial budget included $600,000 for homeless and human services. That number has been increased to $800,000 and will go toward the new EnVision Center in the WorkSource building, which will provide a host of services to low-income and homeless people. The additional funding will also go toward revisions at local homeless shelters and improvements in case management.

The City Council has until the end of the year to review and vote on the final budget. City Council President Ben Stuckart declined to comment, saying he had not yet had time to review the mayor’s proposal.

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