Spokane proposes shift to biennial budget



(The Center Square) – Spokane is considering shifting its budget approach toward a two-year model after Mayor Lisa Brown announced a proposal on Thursday that would start the biennial process next year.

The proposed change coincides with an approximately $50 million structural deficit that Brown has emphasized as one of her key priorities since taking office in January of this year.

Under a biennial model, Spokane’s Finance Department would map out the city’s expenditures for two years rather than advancing an annual budget. In her announcement, Brown said this step is one of many in restoring the city’s financial health.

“Transparency and accountability are at the heart of our new budgeting structure,” Brown said. “A biennial budget allows more time for public review and input, which will enhance community engagement.”

The move could allow the city to focus on long-term planning if it strategically balances its resources over the biennial cycle; in addition, Brown said the process garners longer projections based on investments and takes an administrative burden off city personnel.

“Biennial budgeting allows for better decision making and provides greater financial accountability, which will help restore fiscal stability and achieve long-term financial sustainability,” said Matt Boston, the city’s chief financial officer, in a news release.

Opponents of biennial budgeting say the process limits opportunities to adjust for annual fluctuations; however, Councilmember Michael Cathcart said that’s not a problem in this case.

Part of the goal of a biennial budget is to look ahead to ensure that it’s balanced long term, but Cathcart said there are still checkpoints along the way.

“From my understanding, we’re not going to get rid of mid-year reviews or the quarterly [special budget ordinance] system,” he said. “We can even do a full supplemental budget the following year if we really feel it’s needed.”

Cathcart, chair of the Finance and Administration Committee, has advocated for a shift toward a biennial budget structure for the past few years. Having previously worked in the state Legislature, he saw firsthand how the model forces people to plan for the long term.

Last year, Cathcart tried to advance an ordinance that could have led to Spokane adopting the biennial process, according to The Spokesman-Review; but pushback from the prior administration changed its course.

Cathcart said he met with the new administration earlier this year to discuss moving toward a biennial model, which is one reason he was stunned to hear Brown’s announcement on Thursday.

Despite Cathcart’s years of advocating for a shift on the dias and in budget meetings, he said Brown’s administration failed to collaborate with him on the initiative outside of baseline conversations.

“They say if you can’t beat them, collaborate with them, and if collaboration isn’t your style, just rebrand their ideas as your own,” Cathcart said. “At the end of the day, I’m just glad to see the Mayor’s finally on board with the budgeting option that I’ve been advocating for. I mean, I guess the only real credit I need is that we get to a priority budget that balances and is sustainable.”

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below

Read the Black Chronicle Black History Edition for Free! Click Below



Share post:


More like this

Advocates rally to blast Biden’s Title IX changes

(The Center Square) - Opponents to President Joe Biden's...

Proposal needs $2B to fix 23 miles of congested Columbus highway

(The Center Square) – The Ohio Department of Transportation...

Group wants to defeat measure that would end property taxes in North Dakota

(The Center Square) - Two North Dakota groups are...

New Jersey GOP back push to reshape Congress by excluding noncitizens

(The Center Square) — New Jersey lawmakers are backing...