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Spokane County commissioners approve $873 million FY ’23 budget

Spokanepics.com

Spokane County’s trio of Republican commissioners signed off on a spending plan for the coming year Monday, a significant increase over the 2022 budget.

The $873 million 2023 budget includes funding to address staff shortages at the county sheriff’s department, a host of capital improvement projects, and the basic maintenance and payroll costs the county must shoulder each year. Expenditures are projected to increase just 1.6 percent, according to county budget plans.

The biggest chunk of the $242 million general fund budget -- $171.1 million -- is dedicated to law enforcement and justice. The sheriff’s office and other public safety programs occupy 53 percent of the general fund’s expected spending in 2023, a nine-percent increase over 2022. The court system absorbs about 20 percent of the general fund.

Parts of the law and justice budget include:

  • Almost $597,000 for equipment for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office
  • $775,000 for investigative analysts, property crime detectives, an investigative sergeant, and a regional intelligence detective
  • $350,000 for a remodel of the Real Time Crime Center
  • $136,000 for two process clerks and a court clerk for the Spokane County court system

Funding trends within the public safety budget have varied since 2018. The sheriff’s budget got a big boost in 2022, and a small increase this year. Funding for juvenile services has dropped steadily since 2019. Funding for the county prosecutor’s office, courts and justice system has generally remained in the $40-43 million range since 2018.
Capital projects on the docket for 2023 include:

  • $500,000 for additional courtroom construction
  • $3 million to replace the roof at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center in Spokane Valley
  • $1.5 million to replace the Fair and Expo Center’s heating and air conditioning system
  • $500,000 for improvements to county buildings to meet environmental standards
  • $3.9 million for construction, conservation and amenities at Spokane County parks

Funding for general county services – including the auditor’s office, the medical examiner, county commission and other departments – is projected to be $26.7 million in 2023, continuing a step-up seen in almost every year since 2018.
A Spokane County press release said the budget would meet, and in some cases expand, basic needs, without requiring the revenue of an optional one-percent property tax hike local governments are allowed to implement each year. County commissioners rejected that tax hike last week.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.