Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Council makes mid-course moves

 


Cheney’s City Council unanimously approved a pair of ordinances Tuesday night, one making changes to some wages and another that paid bills for budgeted projects and services.

Human resource manager Mark Schuller explained the ordinance fixing salaries and compensation as being twofold – cosmetic and structural. The cosmetic portion covered changes made last fall when the city went through reorganization in an effort to meet a $700,000 budget shortfall resulting from a loss of some state revenues.

The city made a number of changes to its Community Development Department, eliminating its code enforcement officer position and spreading those duties around while also releasing a building inspector and assigning the other two to the Public Works Department. Part of Ordinance W-05 covered those changes internally, Schuller said.

The other, structural part addressed changes in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Police Department and the Police Guild to redo some classifications. Basically all positions from corporal on down are removed and turned into one new position of Police Officer.

Police Chief John Hensley said the move “flattens out” the department’s organizational structure to Police Chief, Commander, sergeants and police officers. No positions are eliminated, Hensley said, rather changing things from nine supervisors and five officers to the exact reverse.

“It just flips that around,” Hensley said. “It will help us to do our jobs easier, cheaper and faster.”

The other ordinance, W-07, moved monies from existing accounts and resources into a position where they are available to pay for upcoming projects and services. The largest amount was $415,800 from a street fund cash carryover and a federal grant to be used for the North Sixth Street Preservation project and removal of downtown paving bricks at crosswalks on First Street between D and G streets.

Also in the ordinance were $37,000 from criminal justice beginning fund balance and jail reimbursement from Spokane County used to cover a copier lease along with principal and interest on leasing a police car. Reservoir 4 and Well 6 repair work along with the Salnave Bore Project were paid for by $110,000 from water sales in the water fund.

Council granted city staff’s request to have all three readings at one meeting, and both ordinances were passed unanimously.

Council also unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Mayor Tom Trulove to enter into an agreement with Educational Service District 101 to create five, full-time AmeriCorps positions in the Parks and Recreation Department for the 2013-2014 school year.

Parks and Recreation director Paul Simmons said the positions are needed because of requirements in the federal Affordable Health Care Act that would require the city to cover medical expenses for part-time employees working more than 29 hours. Some of the positions require more than 29 hours, and will be taken care of through the five new AmeriCorps spots.

“They will predominantly be out in our after school programs,” Simmons said.

The total cost of the positions is $32,500 and will be covered by program fees and two grants, the 21st Century Grant and the Youth Program Quality Initiative Grant. The amount works out to $6,500 per position, a one-time expense to the city in October, Simmons said.

“The return to the city is incredible,” Simmons said.

Council also approved a resolution accepting a $35,000 grant from the Sprite Spark Parks program for a basketball court at the Betz Road 50-acre park. Simmons said the grant essentially allows the first phase of the park to be expanded to include the basketball court and enable the city to get reimbursed.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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