When the city council of Spokane and Spokane Valley gathered in July 2008 for their first joint session, the meeting “made history,” according to the latter’s mayor.
“We’ve never had a meeting with our sister city next door,” Spokane Valley Mayor Richard Munson said at the time. After a promise to make them regular occasions, another such confab was held a year later.
On Monday, the council will complete the trilogy. And while some of the same old topics will be discussed – transportation difficulties, animal control, garbage disposal and jail services, among others -- there will be several new players at the table.
Spokane Valley had a nearly complete overhaul of its council last November, with “Positive Change” candidates Bob McCaslin, Tom Towey, Brenda Grassel and Dean Grafos coming on board, replacing Munson, Dick Denenny, Diana Wilhite and Ian Robertson, respectively. The city of Spokane, too, has new faces with Amber Waldref and Jon Snyder.
While this meeting will come a bit sooner than the dog days of summer sessions, Towey – Spokane Valley’s new mayor – says it’s important for the new members to get to know one another.
“We hope to have a good meeting,” Towey said. “We’ve got some similar interests to discuss.”
Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, in her State of the City address last month, said that regional approaches to many services may be a way to cut costs in the future. Verner’s city, along with Spokane, faced deficits last year that made balancing their budgets difficult in 2010.
Spokane Valley didn’t have that problem, but mounting costs in animal control has made that one area where city officials have looked for savings. It’s possible that a regional animal-control service, likely provided by Spokane County, could bring some of those costs down.
Deteriorating roads in both cities has also been an issue that needs to be addressed. Recently, Verner and county Commissioner Todd Mielke addressed the regional Council of Governments and offered the idea of forming a countywide transportation benefit district, or TBD, and possibly levy – with voter approval – additional fees on license tabs for street reconstruction and the building of new roads. That topic is also on the docket for Monday.
Waste disposal could also be discussed, as the county’s garbage system is currently managed by the city of Spokane. The leaders of other jurisdictions have expressed interest in a greater role in governing local garbage disposal and recycling efforts.
Also up for talks is efforts to build a new jail facility somewhere in Spokane County. While it’s unclear just how much a new jail would cost or where it will be built, the constituents of the entire county will likely vote on the matter in 2011.
Want to go?
The city of Spokane Valley’s joint meeting with the city of Spokane’s mayor and council will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague. For more information, call 921-1000.