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Clarkston Mayor Offers up Realities in State of the Valley Address

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Clarkston's mayor Monika Lawrence gave an address about the state of Clarkston during Wednesday's State of the LC Valley luncheon.

Lewiston's mayor Jim Kleeburg talked at length about expansion in Lewiston, but apparently the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the river.

Mayor Lawrence admitted that Clarkston isn't "an affluent community." She pointed to a few statistics:

• Clarkston's median home price is around $125,000

• Median income is $32,000

• 20% of all Clarkston residents live below the poverty line

Mayor Lawrence says since she took office in January 2016, she's been looking into the finances of the last five years, and she says she found something alarming about where Clarkston's money was going.

She says, "In five years, wages and benefits increased 10% for police, 11% for public works, 15% for ambulance, and 35% for fire. Wages and benefits are about 80% of our budget."

Mayor Lawrence also pointed out that the legalization of marijuana, and the subsequent dispensaries that opened in Clarkston, didn't solve as many fiscal issues as previously hoped, explaining, "Clarkston's revenue from marijuana, the big boon that was going to save everyone, in fiscal year 2016 that was $19,000 which came from sales tax, while $2.4 million was collected. Clarkston received $1,047 in excise tax while $884,000 was collected."

She did note there are bright spots on Clarkston's horizon, including new businesses adding jobs, the expansion of Walla Walla Community College, And possible community block grants to beautify the town.

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