Although already warned there probably won’t be much money coming this way from the state level, the Spokane Valley City Council spent some time refining its 2014 legislative agenda during Tuesday’s study session.
With the state not likely to fund any local capital projects – the Legislature in Olympia will be focused on big-picture items, notably transportation, during the short session – until 2015, council members discussed “socialization” in the state House and Senate of such future wish-list projects like the Appleway Trail and the expanded Balfour Park.
“What do you mean by ‘socialization’?” Council Member Chuck Hafner asked at a certain point in the discussion.
Council Member Ben Wick, while stating his preference for the city to concentrate on the Balfour project, said he wanted state lawmakers to be familiar with Spokane Valley’s priorities now so that when money is freed up later they would be prepared to offer grant dollars.
“I’m thinking about two years from now,” he said.
The majority of the council, however, believes the potential for developing a walking trail along the former Milwaukie Railroad right-of-way has a better chance of getting the Legislature’s blessing as it would be an enhancement to Sprague Avenue’s commercial center which it runs parallel from University Road to evergreen Road. It would also connect with the Spokane Transit Center behind University City and “provide a much-needed route for nonmotorized travel along Spokane valley’s principle east-west commercial arterial.”
“It will have a lot of economic impact,” said Council Member Arne Woodard.
The city is also looking at preserving its share of state-shared revenues, such as the liquor excise tax, but council members were cautious to say too much about sharing earnings from the sale of legalized marijuana.
“Aren’t we a little premature (in this discussion)?” Woodard asked.
Finally, the city is looking for legislative help in seeking additional ways to recoup costs for enforcing code compliance when a court order is issued and the city performs an abatement at its own expense. Currently, county governments have this protection by being able to impose a lien on property owners.
Further discussion is planned for the council’s Dec. 3 study session.