Here is a 2017 recap from City Council Women Lori Kinnear, District #2, on the accomplishments of the Spokane City Council.  It looks decent.  The City is expanding community court as an alternative to incarceration, passed a new strategic plan, and funding more assistance to the homeless.

With the same swiftness that fall has seemingly turned to winter, so too did November quickly turn to December. The past six weeks have been extremely busy in the City Council office; so much so that I decided not to do a November newsletter. Instead, here are some of the biggest updates from City Hall as 2017 draws to a close with the much-needed commencement of the holiday season:

Strategic Plan
On Monday, December 11, the City Council voted in favor of a resolution to officially adopt  the new six-year Strategic Plan for the City of Spokane. This plan is the result of joint deliberations between the Mayor’s administration and the City Council and represents a unified strategic vision for the entire City. The plan identifies four main goals: (1) supporting innovative infrastructure, (2) promoting safety and health, (3) enhancing the urban experience, and (4) managing resources in a sustainable manner. In October, the City Council revised its standing committee structure, previously made of five committees, into four committees, each of which is oriented towards one of the four goals. This Strategic Plan includes a two-year action plan for 2018 and 2019 aimed at immediately reducing property crime, embracing diversity, maximizing public assets, improving streets, marketing Spokane, improving access to the Spokane River, building a 21st Century workforce, and investing in targeted areas throughout the City. The plan’s measures for success include growth in the median household income level, increases in property values, improvement to the City’s bond rating, improvement of Spokane’s safety compared to similar Washington cities, and growth in the amount of livable-wage jobs.

This plan includes $51.9 million in targeted investments on the strategic initiatives identified (for more information on these investments, please visit: https://my.spokanecity.org/news/stories/2017/12/15/a-two-year-519-million-community-investment-plan/). For more information about the Strategic Plan, please visit: https://my.spokanecity.org/cityhall/strategic-plan/.

Community Court Expansion
In September, Spokane’s Community Court announced that it would be expanding to hold sessions in the Northeast Community Center. On Tuesday, December 12, I was honored to attend the inauguration of the Community Court at the center, led by Spokane Municipal Court Judge Mary Logan. Since 2013, Community Court has been an important tool in bringing rehabilitative, smart justice outcomes for defendants charged with low-level, nonviolent, and quality-of-life crimes who become engaged in the Criminal Justice and Corrections systems in Spokane. In order to complete Community Court sentences, defendants are connected with the social services they need through a case manager, then must complete at least eight hours of community service. The results have been impressive with over 3,100 hours of community service  completed to date, resulting in an investment of $34,000 worth of labor to improve the city and downtown businesses. For more information on Community Court and its expansion, check out this video by our Media Content Coordinator Jeff Humphrey at: https://my.spokanecity.org/news/stories/2017/12/13/community-court-moves-to-hillyard/.

Historic Preservation & Demolition Ordinance
After months of work on this ordinance, we can finally see the finish line on the horizon. On Wednesday, December 13, my legislative team and I held our third and final workshop with the Spokane Plan Commission. We received very positive comments from the commissioners, as we were able to address most of their concerns since the previous workshop in October. Also, we were able to incorporate much of the feedback we received during the public open house in Browne’s Addition in October as well. Going forward, the next big step for the ordinance will be a public hearing before the Plan Commission. During this hearing, the commission will take public testimony on the ordinance before voting on whether to recommend that it move on for City Council consideration. This public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 10, at 3:45 PM. If you support historic preservation in Spokane, I urge you to please come to City Hall for this public hearing and express support for the ordinance. After the public hearing, we are confident that Council will vote on this legislation either in late January or early February. For more information, and to read the full ordinance, please visit: https://my.spokanecity.org/citycouncil/items-of-interest/demolition/.

2018 Budget
Under our City’s council-mayor form of government, the mayor proposes a budget and the City Council must adopt it. The process of getting from the proposed to the final budget is one of negotiation and coordination between the administration and the City Council, and this process kept all of us very busy from November through December. On Monday, December 11, however, we settled on a final budget with the administration and Council voted unanimously to adopt it. The budget includes funding for ten new SPD officers to be hired in 2018 and brought into the force. It also provides long-term funding for 24/7 homeless shelter and services after the City Council identified funds this summer to keep such services open and running through the end of 2017.

SOAR Program Update
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) will be funded next year by the City to help address homelessness. This is money for individuals who qualify and do not know how to submit the proper documents, or have access to a computer in order to complete the necessary forms. Trained personnel help fill out forms and submit them to Social Security thus giving much needed income to people who qualify. Typically applications for these funds can take months and/or repeat requests for individuals to receive their monthly check. This program will streamline the process and shorten the time for payments. 

Traffic Safety in Neighborhoods
In addition to 10 new police officers funded in the 2018 budget, the City Council also passed legislation allowing school zone camera funding to pay for traffic enforcement officers around schools and in our neighborhoods. This will help mitigate speeding issues and other traffic safety concerns in our neighborhoods.

Happy Holidays!
From all of us here in the City Council office, here’s to wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a happy New Year!

We would love to hear from you about any concerns you may have. Email me at: lkinnear@spokanecity.org.

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