Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By BECKY THOMAS
Staff Reporter 

Cheney council digs into budget

 


The Cheney City Council dug into the details of the city’s 2013 budget at its Tuesday night meeting.

The council heard presentations from department leaders in finance, the municipal court, community development, police, fire and parks and recreation.

Tasked with shrinking or maintaining their budgets from 2012, department heads didn’t propose a lot of new programs or purchases. Many departments had been boosted by grant funds in 2012, led by parks and recreation, which used grants to pay for sports fields and to continue building its Let’s Move Cheney coalition.

“Our budget is actually slightly larger than 2012, but that’s all due to grants,” director Paul Simmons said.

The Community Development Department would continue working to update the city’s zoning code and focus on economic development in 2013, director Brian Jennings said. New development has slowed from big years in 2010 and 2011, and the department would send out targeted mailings to businesses in the region.

Police Chief John Hensley noted an increase in property crimes in 2012, which he hoped to spur with public engagement efforts and help from the newly formed Volunteers in Policing group. Hensley also said he hoped to hire a second reserve officer for the department in 2013.

Fire Chief Mike Winters said the department had a trying year with staffing changes and record call volumes, but he credited his staff for completing more training than usual during the busy year. Winters mentioned that the department had some aging trucks that would eventually need to be replaced.

“We’re holding it together for now,” he said.

The council will hold two more public hearings on the budget Nov. 6 and 20.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

• The council approved two grant applications, the first for a Community Development Block Grant to replace water mains and another for a technical assistance grant from the EPA to help plan for the city’s future parking needs as infill development is promoted through the new zoning regulations.

• The council honored new Cheney Fire Lt. Jeff Anderson. Anderson, previously a staff firefighter for Cheney, had his lieutenant badge pinned on by wife Megan.

• Kolleen Cottingham of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program presented the council with a symbolic check for $500,000, representing the grant the WWRP gave to Cheney to construct Phase I of the 50-acre park. She credited the city’s staff and vision for earning the grant.

• The council approved a fee system for parking in the outdoor pool parking lot during the school year. Students at EWU regularly use the lot, and the city expected to earn around $2,500 a year from parking permits if permits for all 18 spaces were sold.

Becky Thomas can be reached at becky@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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