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Lisa Brown criticizes Woodward for ‘structurally imbalanced’ budget

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(The Center Square) – “I’m Lisa Brown, and I’m candidate for mayor of Spokane, the city I love. I’m wearing red today at City Hall, because unfortunately I have to sound an alarm,” said candidate Lisa Brown at a press conference held outside City Hall earlier this week.

Brown went on to call the city’s budget “seriously and structurally imbalanced” citing an eight and a half million dollar deficit just this year. Brown then pointed out that the city’s flexible reserve fund of $28 million has been reduced to nothing over the course of the last three years.

She also highlighted that the city is $50 million short of its legal obligation in Spokane Municipal Code. She noted the fact that the city has received over $80 million in American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds during this time period.

All of those funds have been allocated.

These numbers match previous reporting earlier this year by The Center Square.

“Consequently, the City of Spokane is in the worst fiscal situation it has been in for decades. Mayor Woodward has dug us a deep hole, and she’s still digging,” said Brown.

Brown then called Woodward’s most recent budget proposal a “bait and switch” situation, highlighting that the budget is pulling already allocated funds and diverting them for other purposes.

“I estimate that next year’s budget deficit will be double digits. At least twelve, perhaps fifteen million,” Brown said, “No Spokane business that’s responsible would be run the way our city budget is currently being run.”

She then called on Mayor Woodward to immediately release one-year and five-year budget outlooks so “we can see what the plan really is.”

Woodward responded to the allegations via her official campaign Facebook page, saying, “If Lisa was paying attention to the great progress we have made over the last four years, she would have known we already released a budget outlook at the Finance and Administration Committee [sic] Meeting. On May 15th,” the post read, linking to a video recording of the City Council meeting from May 15 of this year.

Woodward added that “after running for office for 30 years, Lisa Brown still doesn’t get it and now she’s trying to distract voters from her own disastrous and extreme budget record of tax hikes after tax hikes.”

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