Consolidation A Continued Theme In State Of The County

SPOKANE — At Friday morning’s State of the County address, Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke focused on his desire for better city-to-city communication as a way to increase public safety and save money.

With over 460,000 people in Spokane County, Mielke says making everyone happy can be challenging, but highlighted four options for regionalized or consolidated local government.

“We need to put our heads together,” Mielke said urging local government to quickly figure out which option would be best for the region.

The four options range from combining law enforcement and information services among cities in Spokane County to reshaping the role of independent and formally elected officials. Each option, Mielke hopes, would not only create better communication, but also save the county money.

Mielke expressed concern for 2009 with the recent downturn in the economy. As a whole revenue from taxes, such as the sales tax, are down. The county also incurred some unexpected costs including inmates needing life-saving medical treatment.

“Two had kidney problems and the third has cancer that must be treated,” Mielke said. They cost taxpayers an estimated $600,000 in one year alone.

Despite the looming economic forecast and continued struggle with city and county consolidation commissioners are optimistic that the economy will improve and that Spokane County will not face the massive budget issues other counties are facing in Washington State.