Letters to the Editor
10/30/2013 1:28:24 PM
Clarifying the utility tax debate
Overall, I enjoyed reading the articles in The Splash. However, I think you got the utility tax debate wrong. The discussion on Sept. 10 was only about changing the amounts for each utility, cafeteria style, but the total amount of utility tax to be collected was decided in a vote of the entire council at the retreat in August.
At the retreat, the Council voted four in favor of remaining at the $660,000 collection mark, two opposed (Beckett, Olander) and one abstained (Kaminskas). If the opposition vote had carried, the discussion would have been open to decreasing the amount of tax collected - or increasing it, for that matter, but I have never heard anyone suggest that.
I have been consistently opposed to the utility tax and have lobbied, unsuccessfully, to get it reduced or eliminated. My argument has been that we are charging a rate that is twice that of our neighbor Spokane Valley (they charge 6 percent on phone service only), and that is not good for economic development here. Our finance director says he would not have recommended the tax if he had been in his current position then; Mayor Peterson openly opposed it at the time but now has a number of ways to spend it.
We are just entering into the budget discussion, and I am hopeful we will be able to bring down the utility tax in a way that benefits both residents and businesses. Personally, I would like to see a drop in electricity and gas rates to 1 percent or 1.5 percent so that everyone benefits. The decrease in revenue can come from the general fund or REET over the next few years to maintain the street maintenance program. As the city grows, there will be an increase in the number of households and businesses paying the lower rate, and we will surpass the $660,000 goal in a very short time to free up the general fund.
My two cents.
Member, Liberty Lake City Council
Langford worthy of vote
In any election, it can be challenging to know the candidates and where they stand on the issues. I have reached my decision for Liberty Lake City Council Position No. 4.
Having had the opportunity to serve with Odin Langford on the City Council, I know the value he brings our city. He has three qualities that make him the obvious choice.
1. Morals: He cares about the families of Liberty Lake and doesn't shy away from issues that challenge our public conscience, and he does so without concern for himself. He has a moral compass!
2. Experience: For the past six years, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues that our city faces. He knows how we feel about our libraries, parks and city planning. I have watched him balance the demands of homeowners and developers to ensure that both parties were given fair treatment. He understands how the city operates and which direction it ought to be headed.
3. Fiscal Responsibility: I trust Odin with my pocketbook. We don't have to look far to see the toll that fiscal irresponsibility has taken on our state, country and the world at large. Odin isn't out to needlessly increase revenues or find "special" projects. He understands the city's purse is financed from our pockets. He monitors very closely what our money is spent on. He ensures that we don't throw money at every project proposed. He knows that priorities must be set and choices made. When the city does engage with a developer, he fights to make sure that the city is supplied the most competitive bids possible so that we aren't paying a premium for the services we receive. He is focused on paying off all of the city's debts, not incurring new ones.
For these three reasons, I trust this man. When it comes to my ballot, I won't hesitate to cast it for Odin Langford.
Former member, Liberty Lake City Council
Applause for roundabout
The new roundabout is looking great and fits nicely within the Liberty Lake landscape with the added brick work and landscaping.
I wanted to take the time and congratulate Mayor Peterson and Council members as well as the city staff for making this section of road much safer for the commuters. Kudos and keep up the good work!
Wendy Van Orman
Gift of trip inspires pride
On Oct. 5, Bill and I attended the "Hoedown for HOPE." This is the major fundraiser for Spokane HOPE School.
This school teaches listening and spoken language to children with hearing loss (birth to 5 years old). It is the only one of its kind in the Inland Northwest. The school is located in the University District of Spokane. It is a 501c3 non-profit serving children.
The grand prize of the evening was a Hawaiian vacation. This included a one-week stay at a condo and $1,000 toward airfare.
Mary Anne Frank won the trip. Now here is the best part: Mary Anne and Jim Frank gave the prize to a local family that has three children (ages 2, 4 and 6) that were born with hearing loss. Now that was real class!
Just one more reason my husband and I are glad we purchased our home from Greenstone Corporation, a Liberty Lake-based company founded by Jim Frank.
We are grateful to live in a community where the right thing happens without even a second thought. Thank you, Mary Anne and Jim Frank, for again caring about those around you.
Your support makes Liberty Lake THE place to live!
HOPE School Board Member