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A two-year, $51.9 million community investment plan

“Now we are starting to target dollars to West Plains…” – Ben Stuckart Spokane City Council, President

Article via Jeff Humphrey, SpokaneCity.org

A strategic plan to invest in the quality of life of our city now has a financial plan to go with it.

The Spokane City Council approved a plan to invest $51.9 million over the next two years in the health, safety, infrastructure, urban experience, and financial health of the city. The series of one-time investments accelerate street improvements, encourage development, promote water conservation, and invest in recreation, the arts, public safety, homelessness, and reserves. They are possible because of the city’s financial discipline over the past six years and an improved economy.

“These are all things we planned to do,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said. “The economy is allowing us to accelerate them and make generational, catalytic investments in economic vitality.”

Condon and the City Council have spent more than a year developing a joint strategic plan for the city. The plan, also approved by the City Council, integrates two branches of government, three boards, eight divisions and 42 departments around a one vision, one plan and one voice.

Strategic initiatives focus in four key areas:  Safe and Healthy; Urban Experience; Innovative Infrastructure; and Sustainable Resources. Tactics support increases in median household incomes, property values, livable-wage jobs, bond rating, population growth, and social capital, and building the safest city of like-sized cities.

“This plan shifts the city’s economic development approach to a philosophy of organizational responsibility,” Councilmember Amber Waldref said. “It acknowledges that the city is an important regional economic driver.”

Plan highlights include $10 million to accelerate street improvements by advancing the thin grind-and-overlay pilot on arterials as a longer-term solution to chronic potholes, improving residential and unimproved streets, and making infrastructure investments in the target development areas. Another $12 million has been set aside to keep the focus on the river by completing a 3-mile river side trail, improving river access and leveraging the Riverfront Spokane investment to functionally expand the western boundaries of the park to the Monroe Street Bridge.

Safety remains a top priority with $15 million to purchase public safety vehicles and equipment, increase housing for our most vulnerable, and invest in clean and safe neighborhoods. Another $4.5 million will replenish the city’s rainy day fund and advance centers of excellence in targeted areas.

“Financial discipline is delivering a generational investment in the economic vitality of the community,” City Council President Ben Stuckart said.

Nine different sources of money – new, reallocated and existing – are being spread across approximately 20 different areas. Investments were chosen based on a criteria requiring that projects further a strategic outcome, be achievable without adding ongoing cost, leave the investment source healthy, and return either increased revenue or a cost reduction.

“The plan is unique for Spokane and integrated in its resources and outcomes,” Councilmember Lori Kinnear said.

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