Mike FaganA few years ago, Tim Eyman and Mike Fagan started a successful initiative effort to require a two-thirds majority in the Washington State Legislature for the passage of new revenue proposals.  Every two years Eyman has relaunched similar initiatives in response to the Washington State Legislature threatening to undo his initiatives.  Now the two-thirds majority movement has gone local.

Last week the Spokane City Council voted in favor of placing a similar two-thirds rule on the local February ballot.  This measure was supported by Mike Fagan, a City Councilman and frequent co-sponsor of Eyman initiatives to reduce state revenue needed for parks, education, environmental protection, and other services from the State of Washington, according to the Spokesman Review.

Voters will be asked to amend the City Charter by requiring that all tax increases that the council has the power to raise or create receive support from five of the seven members, instead of just four.

Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref, who oppose the concept, voted in favor of placing it on the ballot. –Spokesman Review, December 19, 2012.

Ben Stuckart’s Revenue Proposal to Keep Spokane Libraries Open

On the same night, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart presented a revenue plan to keep all current library branches open.  He discussed his proposal for a 7% increase in property taxes to fund local libraries, and the Spokane City Council voted to place the measure on the February ballot.  The article in the Spokesman continues.

The city’s library budget for 2013 maintains its current services, but library officials warn that they likely will face branch closure in 2014. The last time the Spokane Public Library Board of Trustees seriously considered closing one of the city’s six branches was in 2010, when they proposed shuttering the East Side branch.

Stuckart originally proposed a tax increase of 10 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value.   He lowered the proposal to 7 cents in hopes of gaining more support. All the money would have to go for library spending. The proposal, which would expire after four years, would raise about $1 million a year [in revenue for Spokane Libraries].

Currently, the downtown, Shadle and South Hill branches are open 52 hours a week, and the East Side, Hillyard and Indian Trail branches are open 22  1/2 hours a week. If the tax were approved, Library Director Pat Partovi said, hours at Hillyard, East Side and Indian Trail branches would increase hours to 40. All libraries would remain closed on Sundays.

Michael C. Brown, president of the East Side Reunion Association, said libraries provide a safe place for kids and other community members.

“They provide an affordable activity for families, especially families living in poverty,” he said.  –Spokesman Review, December 19, 2012.

Mike Fagan Criticizes Youth Services Provided by Libraries

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan criticized libraries services that are provide to low-income families and children, and hinted that these were not necessary.

Councilman Mike Fagan, who criticized the library at last week’s council meeting for straying from “core services” by providing story time, movies, genealogy services and other programs, was criticized by some who testified. He explained his vote in favor of placing the tax on the ballot by standing with a shirt with bright yellow letters that said “Let the voters decide.”

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Michael C. Brown, president of the East Side Reunion Association, said libraries provide a safe place for kids and other community members.

“They provide an affordable activity for families, especially families living in poverty,” he said.  –Spokesman Review, Deceamber 19, 2012.

Update: Another Ballot Issue: Prop 1 for Independent Investigative Powers for the Police Ombudsman

There are a total of three ballot issues for the February 12 Election in the City of Spokane.  The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane recommends a

  • Yes vote on Prop 1 to give the Spokane Police Ombudsman the authority to independent investigate complaints of police conduct. 
  • No vote on Prop 2 for the idea of needing a 5/7 majority vote in the Spokane City Council on any revenue increase at the city level.  This would making it nearly impossible to adequately fund libraries, firefighting, public safety, and other essential community services.
  • Yes Vote on Prop 3 for Library Levy to prevent closing the Hillyard and East Central branches, to increase library hours at other Libraries, and to continue vital services for low-income families & children.

For more information on Prop 1 to give independent investigative powers to the Spokane Police Ombudsman, please see the article at the Center For Justice website.

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