Spokane commissioner briefs constituents on federal stimulus spending | Washington
Spokane commissioner briefs constituents on federal stimulus spending | Washington

Source: Google News

(The Center Square) – Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns sent a year in review letter to his District 1 constituents and other residents this week, updating them on highlights of federal stimulus fund expenditures. He also addressed budgetary priorities for 2023. 

“It’s been a wild year to say the least,” wrote Kerns. “The county has seen great strides in delivering services and becoming a more efficient government. We’ve ensured property tax relief for our citizens, promoted public safety and economic development, and maximized one-time federal funding to benefit the community.”

The county received $101 million in American Rescue Plan funds to aid in the recovery of local communities from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My fellow commissioners and I have been very deliberate on the implementation of our ARP funding ,” wrote Kerns. ”Priorities for these dollars were to fund the areas of our economy most impacted by the pandemic, ensure the Spokane Regional Health District received proper funding, and invest in critical infrastructure that will have long-term impacts for our community and region.”

He then listed highlights from some of the investments he and fellow Commissioners Al French and Mary Kuney have approved: 

PUBLIC HEALTH

  • Spokane Regional Health District, $1.4 million for capital improvements.
  • Community Health Clinics, $505,854 for a mobile health unit. 
  • Good News Dental, $428,000 for capital projects.
  • The YWCA, $1.5 million to help victims of domestic violence and their families.

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Spokane County Parks, $675,000 for irrigation upgrades.
  • Newman Lake Flood Control Zone District, $2 million for water quality projects.
  • Whitworth Water District, $4 million for pipeline expansion projects.
  • Comcast, $2.5 million for broadband internet expansion in the northern sector of the  county.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY, NONPROFITS

  • Spokane Workforce Council, $2.2 million for working families childcare services.
  • Habitat for Humanity, $1.7 million for long-term housing security and ownership.
  • Volunteers of America, $2 million for youth supportive housing.
  • Frame Your Future, $800,000 for vocational training.
  • Ronald McDonald House, $37,500 for capital improvements.
  • Spokane Meals on Wheels$134,000 for food insecurity.
  • United Family Services, $351,385 for playground improvements for children with disabilities.
  • Camp Fire Inland NW, $210,700 for youth after-school programs.
  • Women and Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen, $200,000 for food programing.
  • Project ID, $100,000 for services for the intellectually disabled. 

Kerns said a complete list of all ARP expenditures can be found online at spokanecounty.org.

Looking ahead at 2023, Kerns said the county approved a balanced budget of $873.3 million that prioritizes public safety, economic development and government efficiencies.

“I am proud to say we were able to accomplish this without raising your taxes,” wrote Kerns of the county’s decision not to enact the 1% property tax increase allowed by state law.

Most spending, he said, will be in the county’s general fund of $242.1 million. That funding covers most core functions, such as the sheriff’s office, detention services, assessor, treasurer, parks and courts.

“Some key strategic investments we made for public safety were $775,000 for the sheriff’s office to hire more staff and investigators for property crimes within our community,” explained Kerns. “We are also investing $4 million of capital dollars in our parks system that will increase recreation opportunities for our region.”

He said next year the county will invest more than $37 million into the local road system.

“Our public works staff have been very successful bringing state and federal dollars to our region, so-much-so that for every dollar Spokane County spends on road projects, we bring in additional $3.50 of outside funding,” summarized Kerns.