SPOKANE-- There is one man in Spokane who tries to keep gas stations honest by measuring how much gas they give their customers.
He makes $55,000 for that job, which could now be on the chopping block because Spokane is considering dumping the Department of Weights and Measures.
It checks more than gas stations. The department also tests grocery stores to make sure patrons get the full amount of food they pay for, among many other duties.
Steven Parker makes up that entire department. Year round he checks hundreds of business, but that could soon change because of the city’s $10 million deficit, which they have to make up for somewhere.
Larry Loncon owns a local cab company. He relies on Parker to protect his business and his customers.
“It isn’t a matter of thinking that this isn’t an important function. It’s really about what do we do best? What do our citizens need most?” Loncon said.
City spokesperson Marlene Feist said the Weights and Measures Department costs about $100,000 annually. In turn, that department saves taxpayers an astonishing $32 million every year.
“This is all a balancing act,” Feist said. “The city budget is a balancing act and you have to come up with the right mix of things.”
Feist says if the city cuts this department, the state would take over Weights and Measures. The catch? Instead of checking businesses year round, the state would do it every few years.
“To cut the money here, in my opinion, would be irresponsible government. You’re taking the one thing that separates good from bad,” local cab driver Larry Boyd said.
The city council will get a budget recommendation later this summer. It has until the end of the year to make a final decision on any cuts.