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Prop 2 could change the way city council raises taxes

By Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:55:40 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 28 2013 12:14:44 PM CST
Prop 2 could change the way city council raises taxes
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The way Spokane's City Council raises taxes could soon change. If Proposition 2 is approved by voters on February 12th, a super majority would be needed to increase taxes or a 5-2 vote. Right now it takes a simple majority, or 4-3.

"I think their goal is to kill government, and their goal is to grind it into the ground,"  City Council President Ben Stuckart said of the proposition creators.

Stuckart says Proposition 2 is not an issue Spokane voters brought forward. He says it came from westside politicians trying to push their agenda.

"I haven't heard a single citizen in the past two years ask for this proposal, but then they've been bringing this to cities all over," Stuckart said. "They're bringing it to Yakima, they've brought it to Pierce County."

Chris Cargill is with the Washington Policy Center, a Seattle-based think tank with offices in eastern Washington. They support the proposition submitted by council member Nancy McLaughlin.

"This may be a controversial idea to some politicians who want to raise taxes, but it's not a controversial idea to the citizens of Spokane," Cargill said.

Cargill also argues it doesn't kill the tax-raising process.

"It doesn't make tax increases impossible, it says work together to find a way to make sure you're looking at efficiencies first," he said.

Although it's technically non-partisan, the current council is comprised of four right-leaning council members and three left-leaning. Many of the recent votes come down to a 4-3 vote. If Prop 2 passes, at least one member would have to compromise.

Stuckart argues, a super majority has never been a problem while raising taxes. The only recent exemption, he says, is when they tried to raise property tax one-percent to fund Fire Station 9.

"There's not a single example in 20 years of a tax that would've been affected by this charter change," Stuckart said.

Cargill says the state legislature already has a super majority standard when raising taxes, and Spokane should follow.

"That's all this is asking is that you present a better plan, and that you require consensus among council members, before increasing that burden," Cargill added.

Ballots must be postmarked by February 12th.

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