City Momentarily Turns Back on Ombudsman, Presents Budget Proposal

By Paige Browning

BUDGET

The mayor of Spokane revealed his budget proposal to the Spokane City Council last night, and gave the persistent reminder to citizens that he used their feedback in the budget creation process. Now, he’s asking citizen’s to pay 2-percent more in property taxes, an increase needed to fulfill noteworthy city plans. 

Mayor David Condon presented a nearly $600-million plan for city services in 2014. He spoke directly to citizens when he listed off budget items that meet common concerns head on.
 
Condon: “We’ve proposed adding 25 police officers, restoring fire response capability at station 9, by adding four new positions, and putting the finishing touches on a plan to invest 2.5-million dollars more in street maintenance.”
 
More police, more firefighters, and better streets. Those are the highlights of the budget. In his Monday media brieding Condon said there are a dozen city positions under review right now that could either dissolve in 2014 or be combined into fewer positions. Members of the public can share their input at select city council hearings this fall.
 
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POLICE OVERSIGHT

Frustrated Spokane City Council members were set to roll out the police oversight model voters approved last February, but Monday they stopped short of enforcing police oversight plans. 

The ordinance would have given the police ombudsman additional authority. But Mayor David Condon asked the council to defer the vote until contract negotiations are complete between the city and the police guild. Condon says the parties have agreed on a contract, but it must now go before the city council.

Councilman Mike Allen argued they move forward with a full ordinance anyways.

Allen:  “This whole wait, wait thing, I’ve seen it before. I saw it in the last administration. Oh, wait, we’ll get you taken care of, we’ll make sure it’s taken care of. And it didn’t get taken care of frankly. In some ways it weakened the ability for independent oversight from a police ombudsman office."

But the council broke up the ordinance. They approved a commission for the office of police ombudsman, but removed a section that would give the ombudsman authoirty to conduct investigations into the department on his own.

Ordinance sponsor Steve Salvatori said he did not want to damage the contract negotiation process.

Salvatori:  “The amended version strips out all those clauses that we weren’t actually be able to take action on tonight anyway. It focuses on the one thing I believe that we can do tonight, we can do right now and that is create the ombudsman commission.”

Representatives from the Center for Justice and the Peace and Justice Action League urged council members to hold firm in the quest for additional ombudsman authority.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio
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