November 29, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 32

Drop in Airway Heights sewer rates recommended for 2013

Joint Land Use Study makes first appearance before City Council at Dec. 3 meeting

By JAMES EIK

Staff Reporter

Recommendations to reduce sewer rates in Airway Heights were presented at the Monday, Nov. 26 City Council study session.

City Manager Albert Tripp said rates increased as construction commenced on the wastewater treatment plant. They are currently set at $67.50 for this year.

“This rate worked progressively its way to that current funding level over the past four to five years as the city was undertaking construction for the plant,” he said.

Prior to the plant’s construction, rates in the city weren’t able to sufficiently fund the project. Other grants helped fund a majority of the project. To help stabilize sewer rates, a rate stabilization program was created.

“The rate stabilization fund has helped tremendously,” Tripp said.

The result of that program led to the recommended 9.63 percent drop in sewer rates for 2013 and the foreseeable future, lowering the monthly sewer rate from $67.50 to $61.

While water rates were set at $28.80 this year, they could increase slightly to a recommended rate of $29.66. The recommendation factors in small 2 percent water rate increases for the next few years, until 2016. The rate considers lower amounts of water purchased from the city’s intertie with Spokane, due in large part to the success found at the new recovery well.

The City Council will take up the issue at a meeting in the near future.

Also coming in the City Council’s Monday, Dec. 3 meeting is the first presentation of the city’s version of the Joint Land Use Study. For the past several months, city representatives have met with local jurisdictions to work out a version of JLUS that could work with Airway Heights’ urban setting.

The first reading of the ordinance will take place at the Dec. 3 meeting, followed by a public hearing at the Planning Commission Monday, Dec. 10, before a second, and possible final, reading Monday, Dec. 17 with the City Council. The ordinance would repeal the city’s current AICUZ overlay and replace it with JLUS.

Throughout the discussions, city planner Derrick Braaten said the city had four main focuses: protection of Fairchild Air Force Base, rights of land owners, maintaining a high level of community development and the health and safety of the community.

Tripp also said he received a letter from Catholic Charities for the Fairchild Preservation and Community Empowerment housing project in Airway Heights. The letter asked for contributions of $300,000 from the city as a local match for the project.

Earlier this year, Airway Heights invested $7,500 in a joint funding venture to distribute a survey to residents living in the Accident Potential Zone. Suggestions were made to ask other jurisdictions to contribute, as some said it was more of a regional situation, with protecting Fairchild and homeowners, rather than just a local issue.

A second and final change order encompassing five items for $9,221.43 will come in front of the City Council for the Sunset Park reclaimed water project. Public works director Kelly Williquette will also put forward a request to accept the project as complete.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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