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There are a lot of ways to stay in touch with Spokane news: you can download any one of the popular news apps (like KREM or KXLY) on your phone or smart TV, visit The Spokesman-Review newspaper, or follow any popular Spokane forum (on Facebook, Reddit, Patch, etc.). But sometimes… you just want a summary of what’s going on. At least, that’s what we wanted when we were thinking of moving to Spokane!
What’s going on in Spokane, and what does it mean for Spokanites? In this new series, Everyday Spokane will break down the week’s most interesting news and provide some analysis on what it means for Spokanites (or wannabe Spokanites!).
Let us know what you think of this weekly news roundup – love it? Hate it? Tell us over on our Facebook page here!
Despite advice from mayor, Spokane voters approve tax for police and firefighters [The Spokesman-Review]
Summary: Ignoring the advice of Spokane’s mayor, voters overwhelmingly approved a $5.8 million-a-year tax that will pay for more police and firefighters…
The tax will allow the city to hire 20 new police officers and maintain 30 recently-hired firefighters currently funded by a federal grant about to expire.
In the first count of votes Tuesday night, about 64 percent of voters approved the measure. The measure needed only a simple majority to pass.
ES Analysis: The big news this week was that voters approved a property tax increase to fund police and firefighters. Given Spokane’s growth over the last few years, this is probably an overall good thing. One thing we’ve noticed is a lack of police visibility, especially on the north side of Spokane. This could be because of crime rates (we see police regularly downtown) but also could be due to not enough officers to send out.
The only thing I would caution, as the mayor did in his opposition to this tax, is sustainability for the future. The City of Spokane knew it would need to figure out a way to pay for firefighter salaries a long time ago – these positions were grant funded, not funded indefinitely by the federal government.
The fact that Spokane didn’t figure out how to pay for these firefighters in their regular budget, and instead had to resort to a property tax, is interesting. Was this the best way to pay for an increase in funding for public safety? Or will this be the new norm whenever the City of Spokane wants to pay for things they haven’t budgeted for? We’ll see.
Getting There: Six big road projects that could smooth (or beautify) your commute in Spokane this year [The Spokesman-Review]
Summary: In 2015, state and local governments in the U.S. spent $168 billion on highways. That same year, Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington’s legislators agreed to increase the gas tax by 11.9 cents per gallon, raising $16 billion over 16 years, most of which will go toward state highways and local roads.
This year, the city of Spokane will spend $15.2 million on six notable projects…
ES Analysis: Six projects to improve the infrastructure of Spokane will go ahead this year, but two expected road improvements will be delayed to a later date. Road projects will mainly affect access to downtown, commuters from outer-lying neighborhoods, and bikers. Projects regarding the Hamilton corridor and the Post Street Bridge will not be undertaken this year.
As far as access to downtown goes, the truck and transit route of East Sprague Avenue will be made narrower but safer, as the transit will be elevated and sidewalks and pavement will be re-made. Commuters who use the South Hill routes, Clarke Avenue, or Five Mile Road will need to expect a change, as they will all be under work until late this year. Work on the Cincinnati Greenway will finally commence, providing bikers and walkers a safer route between trails but slowing down motorized traffic. And finally, the Maple Street I-90 Gateway will be re-done to beautify the entrance to the city with a new sign.
Overall, this is great news! A favorite Spokane past time is complaining about the roads, and we’re really happy to see Spokane investing in improving and expanding roads. If this is what tax payer money is going toward, count me in!
Discover Passes available for check-out at Spokane city, county libraries [KXLY]
Summary: A new pilot program launched by Check Out Washington will provide family Discover Passes to City of Spokane and Spokane County libraries, according the Washington Trail Association.
The libraries will loan the passes out as apart of a backpack kit containing binoculars, field guides, and other interpretive materials.
ES Analysis: Discover passes, which can provide citizens access to state lands for activities such as hiking, are being issued by libraries on loan. The passes come with a backpack kit that includes tools for exploring, such as binoculars.
These multi-vehicle passes, provided by Check Out Washington, do not even need the license plate numbers of the vehicles used to be valid. With one, anyone can visit these lands by any mode of transportation. The idea behind the passes is to expose more people to the parks and increase opportunities for those who may not usually have access to these lands.
This is an awesome way for newcomers to Spokane to get out and explore without having to spend money on multiple passes, equipment, etc. This spring and summer, if you’re looking for fun activities for the family, guests or just yourself, make sure to request one of these passes and get out there! You can learn more about the program here.
Spokane attracts new business amid $450K ‘Hacking Washington’ campaign
Summary: In October, the City of Spokane launched a campaign to encourage people and businesses in Seattle to relocate to Spokane.
The $450,000 campaign boasts of Spokane’s affordable housing, shorter commute times, and many other features the Lilac City has to offer.
We checked in to find out how the campaign is going and what businesses have already made the move.
ES Analysis: Rover and Mckinstry, a dog-sitting start-up and a construction engineering company, respectively, have both benefited themselves and Spokane thanks to the $450,000 Hacking Washington campaign, meant to draw businesses into the area by emphasizing short commutes and affordable housing in the area. This is beginning to help Spokane become recognized as the thriving community it already was.
Rover found Spokane to be a great fit because of its ample green space and urban culture and decided to place its second headquarters in the city. Mckinstry, which had already been in the city for several years, is helping to push forward investment projects in the University District. The hope is that the effort, which will be led officially by Hacking Washington through the end of 2019, will continue to attract more businesses to Spokane, providing employment opportunities within the city and improving its nationwide reputation.
In various Spokane forums (and around the city), some people made fun of this ‘Hacking Washington’ initiative and said it was a waste of money… it looks like we’ll need more than two companies to determine if ‘Hacking Washington’ was really a success, but at least the City of Spokane is out there bragging about itself! Spokane really is an excellent place to live and do business in, and it’s about time companies recognize that (and bring more jobs our way!)
Readers, what do you think of this weekly round up? Did you think Hacking Washington was a good idea? Do you plan on using the Discover Passes this spring and summer? Head on over to our Facebook page to share your thoughts!