Spokane judge rules against Stevens County Commissioners in homelessness funds case

RaeLynn Ricarte

Spokane Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno ruled last Friday that the Stevens County Commissioners had not complied with state law in their distribution of homelessness funds and their repayment of the money did not close the case.

Via a Zoom hearing that was open to the public on July 31, Moreno said there were other financial considerations, such as attorney fees and interest, that would be decided at the next hearing, which is Aug. 14.

“I tried to be very thoughtful with how I considered this,” she said before siding with plaintiff, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, on all points.

She ordered both sides to submit briefs about what they want to see done on the financial side of the case. Moreno said there would be no oral arguments at the next hearing; she would review the paperwork and render a judgment. 

Commissioners Wes McCart, Steve Parker and Don Dashiell, through their attorney, Alison Turnbull of the Spokane firm of Kirkpatrick & Startzell, lost their bid to have the case dismissed due to their recent repayment of $121,000.

The commissioners contend that replacing the money spent on two private projects met Rasmussen’s demand that the homelessness fund be restored. 

Rasmussen is represented by attorney George Ahrend of Moses Lake, who is seeking to have the commissioners make an additional payment of $54,000 for interest, as well as cover his legal fees.

As of the end of May, the county had paid nearly $60,000 to Ahrend’s firm.

Read the full story in the Aug. 5, 2020 issue of the Statesman-Examiner.