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Nov 18, 2022 4 min read

Help coming for those with delinquent utility bills

Help coming for those with delinquent utility bills
Anywhere USA's Local Utility Company might need a 
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CIVICS | It may be a holiday week, but the Spokane City Council still has budget hearings to hold and ARPA money to disburse.

Next week is a short one for public institutions because of turkey day, but the city council is still working the first part, so we still have a civics round up for you, PLUS details on closures, trash pickup and street parking.

Spokane City Council

Delinquent utilities: According to the agenda packet, there are more than 8,600 homes in Spokane that are behind on their city utility bills, totaling nearly $8 million in outstanding balances. The council is set to accept grant funds from the Washington State Department of Commerce of more than $1.8 million to support utility bill customers who have delinquent accounts because of the pandemic.

The grant says the debt accrued must have been between March 2020 and Dec. 31, 2022 by customers who have been pre-qualified because they participate in other programs, including LIHWAP, LIHEAP and U Help. The funding will help about 2,100 households with some or all of their past due bills.

Childcare money incoming: The city council is set to approve a $3.5 million ARPA grant to Community Minded Enterprises to distribute ARPA grants to childcare providers for specific programs and staffing. There is also money set aside for childcare vouchers for middle-income earners.

Budget, Baby (again again): The city council is still in budget hearings and will be every Monday until Dec. 5. See the budget here and read more about it in depth from The Inlander’s Daniel Walters here.

Homeless funding: The council is set to vote on a resolution that commits the city to funding current homeless shelters and service providers before funding new shelter beds. This comes out of the threat that Hope House would shutter without more funding while the city was funding Trent Shelter. This item was discussed in the Urban Experience Committee this week and is set to be voted on Monday.

Agenda here.
Monday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.
Council Chambers in the Lower Level of City Hall.
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201
The meeting is also live streamed here.
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Finance and Administration Committee

Overtime: The police department is asking for $2.5 million in police overtime one-time costs, which they say was caused by short staffing, “activities related to homelessness” and bar patrols. (Is it smarter to spend $2.5 million on police to surveil homeless people or $2.5 million to house those same people?) Next year, SPD is reassigning non-patrol officers to patrol to reduce overtime costs.

The Fire Department is asking for $3.7 million to cover overtime costs, which they say was caused by unfilled vacant positions. They scheduled a second firefighter recruit class for 2022 and hired 40 new firefighters to help mitigate the overtime issues for next year.

Parking changes: The committee is discussing an ordinance that would combine Code Enforcement & Parking Services into one department since they are both enforce civil regulations like land and property use, public health and safety laws, and municipal codes. Back in 2021, the Development Services Center, Code Enforcement, & Parking Department were all in one, but the city council removed parking to create its own department. It’s not exactly clear why the quick change back, but a new director of the department was hired in September on condition of this change.

Top tier priorities: The committee will also be discussing their priorities for legislation in the next year. This list will be a guide for the city’s lobbyists at the state level during the next legislative session. Among the priorities:

  • Passing insurance and construction reforms to lower the cost of development of condominiums while still protecting consumers
  • Expanding funding for Law Enforcement Training Facilities in Spokane
  • Passing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation that holds producers responsible for their waste management costs at end of life
  • Creating a permanent home for Spokane’s American Indian Community Center.

See the full list in the agenda link.

ARPA notice: The city will be issuing a Notice of Funding Availability for non-profit organizations and small businesses impacted by the pandemic. There is $5 million total to be disbursed and the deadline to apply is Dec. 20. See all the details at the agenda link.

Agenda here.
Monday, Nov. 21 at 1:15 p.m.
Council Chambers in the Lower Level of City Hall.
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, WA 99201
The meeting is also live streamed here.

Everyone’s canceled: OK maybe not everyone, but all sessions of the Board of County Commissioners, Spokane Regional Health District Board, and the Plan Commission meetings are canceled for next week.

Holiday closures

Closed Thursday and Friday:

Spokane City

  • Spokane City Hall
  • All Spokane Public Library locations
  • Spokane Municipal Court
  • My Spokane 311 won’t respond to customer service inquiries those days either, but you can access the 311 online app and messages will be responded to on Monday.

All Spokane County offices, including

  • Spokane County Courthouse (District and Superior Courts)
  • Public Safety Building
  • Public Works Building
  • Veterans Services
  • Community Services
  • Parks and Recreation
  • SCRAPS.

If you’re planning on doing some fall cleaning, all three waste Transfer Stations (North County, Spokane Valley and the Waste-to-Energy Facility) will be closed on Thursday, but will reopen on Friday.

Garbage pickup and curbside recycling will be a day later for those whose garbage is normally picked up on Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, on-street parking meters and kiosks will not need payment, but don’t forget to feed your meter regularly the rest of the week.

Happy holidays, enjoy your tryptophan, everyone!

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