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Spokane City Council berated on overspending and homelessness

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(The Center Square) – Overspending and homelessness dominated the conversation at the Spokane City Council’s Monday night meeting, with community members speaking out on those issues during a public forum.

Spokanite Justin Haller took the stand multiple times to air his grievances.

“I’d like to see more local people be hired, and I’m sure that there are some talented people that would like to have the money that you guys waste,” Haller said sarcastically about the council voting earlier in the meeting to make North Carolina-based Huber Technology the sole provider of parts and services for some of the equipment at the Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility.

“I mean spend,” he added.

Haller asked the council for more dialogue about taxpayers’ money, saying that constituents want more value for public funds spent by the city.

He noted the city is dealing with a $50 million deficit and is proposing two levies, which he said are expected to cost local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Last week, Mayor Lisa Brown proposed a property tax hike to fund public safety programs. The levy would raise nearly $40 million for Spokane over the next five

years.

The other levy proposal calls for raising $225 million over 20 years to pay for three new parks and more than 30 new playgrounds, among other things. It was originally scheduled for the February ballot, but has been delayed.

Council members reminded Haller that speakers are supposed to focus on items presented on the consent agenda.

“Well, I do not consent,” Haller replied. “You guys keep wasting our money on useless stuff.”

Spokane resident Kristi Jensen took issue with how the city is handling homelessness, saying she left San Francisco in the early 2000s to get away from that city’s homeless problem.

The alley adjacent to her residence has become a toilet for homeless people, she told the council. Fires are regularly started outside her home, Jensen explained, and some people even tear down portions of her fence to use as firewood.

Jensen said just recently, a person screamed for hours outside her bedroom window while flopping around on the ground, most likely due to suddenly stopping or cutting back on the use of an addictive substance.

“If I didn’t live anywhere but a clown world, somebody would’ve come and hauled this person away,” she concluded.