January 31, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 41

Airway Heights garbage contract talks expected in 2013

At its monthly study session meeting, the Airway Heights City Council noted that discussions regarding the city’s garbage contract will need to take shape very soon.

The current contract, which sends garbage to the Waste to Energy Plant, will expire in 2014. City Manager Albert Tripp said tipping fees for the city increased this year from $104 to $107 per ton, and will increase by another $3 next year. The city generates approximately three tons of garbage throughout the year.

Various alternative plans have surfaced throughout the discussions with various jurisdictions, however no plans have received final approval. Negotiations will take place regularly throughout 2013.

Also in an upcoming meeting, the City Council will vote on a lateral move for city planner Derrick Braaten, who would become the new Development Services Director.

Tripp said the city got rid of the position in 2009 when the economy turned south. However, recent growth has given cause to reinstate the position. Braaten already does most of the job listing.

“Has it increased enough to justify this?” Councilman Steve Lawrence asked.

Tripp said it had, noting that signs of recovery were strong in May or June of last year, showing that general economic trends were rising.

In all, Tripp said the position will save around $2,000 from the general fund, with 17 percent of the salary coming from utilities.

The city has some long-term plans to hire a second city planner, when the need arises.

With an affirmative vote, Airway Heights could have its own representative on the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, according to an interlocal agreement. The cost would be $1,244 for the city to have a representative on the board. Prior to the new setup, smaller cities typically under 5,000 in population had around a fraction of a vote, with a lone representative voicing opinions for numerous cities.

The City Council will also consider a renewal of its ambulance service contract with American Medical Response. Fire Chief Mitch Metzger said the previous contract had an expiration date of October 2012, but AMR asked for an extension. A new contract would last until 2016.

Metzger said the new contract factors in some fair pricing measures, largely driven by the consumer price index. It would also set a number of performance standards, offering a slight reduction in cost. An AMR vehicle is able to be out on the road in around six to seven minutes, and is stationed with the fire department to allow for a quick emergency response time.

Among the housekeeping items mentioned at the meeting, Braaten said the term for Vincent Williams, who serves on the Planning Commission, expires at the end of January. Williams expressed interest in continuing, and Braaten recommended the City Council renew his term.

Another housekeeping item that will appear in a future meeting is the selection of a landscape architect for 2013. Recommended this year is the firm Sherry Pratt Van Voorhis (SPVV) Landscape Architects. The company has worked closely with Airway Heights in the past, including the creation of the city’s 70-acre park master plan.

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

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