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Spokane City Council to consider sending parks, library levies to the ballot

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

The Spokane City Council is expected to decide tonight whether to put two property tax levies on the February 2024 ballot.

One would renew the current levy that funds city library services, but add seven cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. For the owner of a house worth $300,000, that would mean an increase of $21 per year. The levy would last for three years.

The second measure would fund parks improvements.

Parks Director Garrett Jones says the levy would collect 29-cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation, or about $87 for a $300,000 house. The total raised would be about $11 million a year for 20 years.

"That would go towards renovating our aging parks, adding new parks in our system, adding new amenities in our system, updating our security and operations, just the daily maintenance as far as keeping our restrooms open longer, getting out there to pick up the trash on a more frequent basis. Some of that quality of life user experience," he said.

Jones says the money raised would allow the city to renovate current parks and add new ones, as well as care for the existing facilities.

“This is a great balance. Usually we’ve always been in the bond world and that is really just strictly capital. But a levy gives you that flexibility between the operations, deferred maintenance and capital," he said.

Because the proposal is a tax levy, not a bond issue, it will only need majority approval to pass.

Jones says, once the council gives its approval, the city will launch a website with details and begin a community education campaign.

The state grant would fund playground equipment fixes at 16 parks, including
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
The state grant would fund playground equipment fixes at 16 parks, including Loma Vista in northwest Spokane.

The city also recently announced it has a new $100,000 grant from the state to fix or replace old playground equipment, says Parks Director Garrett Jones.

“A lot of those grants are normally around the capital investments or matching dollars to acquire land. They came out this year with a local parks maintenance grant program and, as we know, we have a lot of maintenance needs, deferred maintenance needs, across our parks system and so this was a great match for us," he said.

Jones says the grant will pay the city to fix more than 40 piece of equipment, including slides and swings, at 16 parks next year.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.