Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Airway Heights budget factors in annexation


Annexations in Airway Heights this year have altered the way the city approached its budget for 2013 and were discussed in a public hearing at the Monday, Oct. 15 meeting of the Airway Heights City Council.

A large amount of land was annexed east of Hayford Road to Deer Heights Road, in coordination with the city of Spokane. As a result, the city’s revenues had a slight change compared to 2012.

Airway Heights’ assessed valuation is up by a projected 32.1 percent for 2013 from this year, increasing to $454,244,884. In 2008, it was $240,966,294. Despite the overall increase, if the city hadn’t performed the annexation, valued at $150 million, it would have dropped in valuation by $5 million.

Clerk-Treasurer Richard Cook said the decrease in valuation was a normal sign in Spokane County, occurring in several other cities.

“Basically countywide, assessed valuation is down,” Cook said.

Over the past several years, the city has seen double-digit increases in valuation, with the exception of 2011.

In regards to property tax, the City Council will make a decision on an ordinance at its Monday, Nov. 5 meeting. Last year, the City Council decided not to take the 1 percent increase, which amounts to roughly $150,000 per year.

“It’s not a huge impact,” Cook said. “But, last year we took a zero percent increase, just as a point of reference.”

Despite the increase being a comparatively small part of the city’s budget, City Manager Albert Tripp said it was an important part of the overall picture.

“The city will have $150,000 less revenues next year, in the 2013 budget, than it does presently,” he said.

The Airway Heights Police Department went on a small spending spree, using all but around $30,000 of funds received in shared assets from the FBI involving a 2010 case. Around $194,000 was spent to upgrade much of the department’s aging equipment.

Police Chief Lee Bennett said the upgrade to threat level body armor will be available should a crisis arise that goes beyond routine policing activity.

“This goes above our day-to-day body armor,” he said.

Most of the equipment will be in rotation by the end of the year, with the exception of the purchased vehicles.

Later in the meeting, the City Council approved the surplus of the department’s Tasers and handguns. Bennett said Tasers are expected to catch $100 each, while the Glock handguns will turn around at $250 each. The Tasers, once sold through surplus, will be refurbished for other departments to use.

Also at the City Council meeting, the job description for part-time positions in the parks and recreation department was updated. Parks, recreation and community services director J.C. Kennedy said the changes stemmed from a recommendation from the Association of Washington Cities organization. The changes included driving qualifications.

The city is taking part in the first annual “trunk or treat,” at Sunset Elementary for Halloween. City residents and businesses are invited to take part in the event. Prizes will be awarded for the best trunk decorations.

At the end of the meeting, the City Council went into a short executive session. Action will be taken on the item at the Nov. 5 meeting.

James Eik can be reached at


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