Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time For A Combined City/County Government?

Spokane County, and we residents, are in for a rough patch. As Jim Camden of the Spokesman Review pointed out in a recent article, the county must trim $10.5 million from it's budget in order to break even. That's about $22 for every man, woman and child that comprise roughly 467,000 county residents. Camden provides an online copy of the county's budget so anyone can try balancing the budget so I thought I'd take a look.

Well, it ain't lookin' good. A huge majority of the budget goes towards maintaining law and order: the Sheriffs Dept, prosecutors and defenders, the jail, court operations, juvenile detention, etc. Making cuts there would be seriously detrimental to an already overloaded system.

On the heels of the annexation agreements by Spokane and Airway Heights, come January 2012 the county loses another 1.8 million of tax revenue without a corresponding reduction of people to provide services to.

Yesterday, the county released the planned cuts and it still ain't lookin' good.

If the city of Spokane plans to keep pushing its borders outwards and taking away more of the county's tax base in the process, then maybe it's time to take a serious look at combining the governments.


Spokane Al said...

I have long thought that combining governments made good sense. Back in the early 90s when there was discussion of combining gov'ts and calling the entity the City of Chief Joseph I thought it made good sense, for money saving as well as combining forces as a single voice for recruiting businesses to the local area and growing together as a single body that would reach to the WA/ID border.

However I suspect there are many who have too much vested in the status quo to do this without a bitter fight.

Lucas said...

I like the idea, but the process would be messy. Plus you would end up with a situation where Spokane set the tone for the whole county, which would be awkward since the rest of the county is pretty rural and has much different issues to deal with. Combining police and fire into "metro" departments would make sense, though. Al is right about the competing interests - there would be VERY ugly turf battles.