City to Ask Voters How to Fund Initiatives

By Paige Browning

The two citizen initiatives going to a vote of the people in Spokane will now be followed by a vote on how to fund the measures.
 
Already facing argument from half of city council and the mayor are the Citizens Bill of Rights and the Voter Bill of Rights which prohibits corporate lobbying in Spokane elections. On Monday the city council approved two more topics for the ballot. One will ask that, assuming the citizen’s initiatives pass, should the city reduce funding in existing general fund programs. The other asks whether the city should seek additional funding if the bills pass.
 
Council members Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori strongly back the idea and say enforcing the initiatives would cost the city money. Council member Amber Waldref voted no to both and says she believes it’s an effort to influence, not simply educate, voters. This echoed feelings expressed during public testimony by Brad Reed, sponsor of the Bill of Rights initiative.
 
Reed: “You don’t need advice from voters. You want to tell voters these are a bad idea and if you vote for them you have to raise money, you have to cut services. You have no information to back that up, nothing quantified.” [:13]
 
Salvatori says he’s simply asking the citizens for advice on where funding would come from.
 
Salvatori: “If it’s something that we did on our own initiative or at the mayor’s request, we’d be having a debate on how we pay for it. When it comes through an Initiative process, that conversation doesn’t take place. There’s no place for it. And so this is to me a very logical thing, to have a logical debate.”
 
Council ultimately approved the advisory votes by 4-to-3. There’s also a chance neither bill will make it on the November ballot. They are the topics of a court hearing later this month.
 
Monday night the council also agreed to lease Joe Albi stadium to Spokane Public Schools. The switch saves the city nearly 500-thousand dollars a year.
 
Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio.
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