For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2021
Treasurer proposes local public financing option for Latah Valley land conservation
Spokane County, WA – Treasurer of Spokane County Michael Baumgartner proposed today a local public financing option to support the purchase of Latah Valley land currently being considered for development or conservation.
Conservation Futures, the City of Spokane, and other stakeholders have been considering options to conserve approximately forty-eight acres located along U.S. 195 near High Drive Bluff Park and Latah Creek. Acquisition of the land for conservation has previously been identified as a priority by Conservation Futures.
The Treasurer of Spokane County through the $1.3 billion Spokane Public Investment Fund offers local direct investments to the government entities it banks and invests for. Up to ten percent of the investment fund may be held in local direct investments. Terms are typically favorable compared to rates available in the open market and are re-payable over a maximum of five years.
“Supporting conservation and smart development to the area along U.S. 195 has long been a priority of mine” said Michael Baumgartner the Treasurer of Spokane County who previously helped secure state funding for new passing lanes on U.S. 195 while in the state senate.
“The High Drive Bluff natural area is a treasure for our community and something that we should protect,” added Baumgartner. “We currently have about $100 million in capacity for local lending for good public projects. Helping finance the purchase of this area would be a tiny portion of our fund and something I would be very interested in considering.”
Local direct investments have supported a number of past Spokane County conservation and infrastructure projects. Conservation Futures previously financed the Etter Ranch land acquisition through a local direct investment. In 2019, the Treasurer’s Office issued public financing to Spokane County Public Works to speed up construction schedules at Bigelow Gulch by six months.
“Our Local Direct Investment program is a win-win for the public. This program delivers public projects of local interest and at a lower cost through our affordable financing terms. The Treasurer’s Office is ready to be a partner to support our community and public partners, especially on projects like these.” Added Baumgartner.