Lawsuit filed against City of Clarkston over funding the Aquatic Center

CLARKSTON, WA - A former City Attorney filed a lawsuit Tuesday regarding the optional sales tax money Clarkston collects and funding for the Asotin County Family Aquatic Center.

"The aquatic center doesn't pay for itself," said attorney Scott Broyles. "To think that it would is ridiculous."

Broyles turned in a lawsuit Tuesday in a fight with the City of Clarkston over aquatic center funding.

"I want the referendum to repeal ordinance number 14-25, which is the City of Clarkston opt into the optional sales tax that should be going to the aquatic center which they are diverting," said Broyles.

Broyles turned in a petition on behalf of Connie Morrow, a concerned constituent in March but it went unanswered. Clarkston Mayor Kathleen Warren said they had seven days to file a petition when the ordinance was first enacted, but it's been four years so the council had no response to the petition.

In response to no action taken by the city council, Broyles filed a lawsuit because he said he wants the voters to decide for themselves if the money in question should return to the aquatic center.

"The ultimate goal is to put this issue before the voters of the City of Clarkston," said Broyles.

Warren disagrees with Broyles' stance on the matter.

"If we do this and it passes, the city would lose over a half-a-million dollars in revenue every year," said Warren.

Warren said the money is important for the city's emergency funds and day-to-day expenses.

"Some goes into capital expense which is immediately available for day to day expenses," said Warren. "It's there so that when a regular bill comes in we can pay it. Then we have a capital expense reserve which is held kind of like a rainy day fund."

Warren said if the proposed referendum passes, the City of Clarkston could not afford it.

"Clarkston is operating with the bare minimum personnel wise that we can afford and do and still provide decent service for everyone," said Warren. "We don't want to cut back on essential services like police, fire and road maintenance."

However Broyles said he would retract the lawsuit if the city would consider his requests.

"I could stop right now if the city council voluntarily put that matter on the ballot," said Broyles.

"The simple matter of the fact is we can't afford it," said Warren.

Broyles said he's ready to fight the city and plans on filing another lawsuit in the coming weeks regarding public records disclosure.

"I'll file a lawsuit and we'll keep going," said Broyles.

"You don't need to keep filing another lawsuit and another lawsuit and another lawsuit," said Warren. "You've got a lawsuit filed. Wait until that's run it's course before you file another one. It's a waste of time and money. And the only excuse I can think of for anyone wanting to do that is they want the city to go bankrupt."

The city has an allotted amount of time to respond to the lawsuit. It is then the two parties will decide what steps to take next. It is a possibility the battle could be taken to court.

Broyles said the lawsuit case has been assigned to Whitman County Judge David Frazier.