ML City Council votes to create homeless program

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MOSES LAKE — The city of Moses Lake will operate its own homeless program and will request a portion of excise taxes already collected from the city by Grant County in order to pay for it, the city council decided unanimously Tuesday.

Currently, the county pays for programs which are coordinated by the Homeless Task Force of Grant County, through real estate excise taxes collected countywide. The resolution will notify the County Commission of the city’s intent to create its own program and homeless task force, redirecting some of the taxes already paid by city residents to pay for it.

Though the exact amount has yet to be decided, council members considered requesting around $200,000, or the amount the excise tax has increased since last year, in order not to cut into services already provided by the county. The city has the flexibility to request a larger portion of the tax dollars if it were to choose to do so at a later date, city attorney Katherine Kenison said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Enacting the program will also allow the city to pursue state grants to supplement its funding, according to a staff report presented to the council Tuesday.

The city is not obligated under the resolution to provide any specific level of service or to be a direct provider of those services, Kenison said Tuesday. No decisions were made at Tuesday’s meeting about what the city’s homeless program would prioritize, but a plan would need to be adopted by the council by December 2019, she added.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

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