September 12, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 21

Council approves additional CDBG funds

Budget amendment ordinance, agreement to join Associated Washington Cities self-insured pool two of items on busy Tuesday night agenda

Cheney’s City Council moved swiftly through a number of action items at its first meeting in September Tuesday night, passing eight resolutions and holding all three readings and final passage of a budget ordinance.

Resolution E-162 allows the city to accept an additional $39,995 in Community Development Block Grants for its residential road and water project. Cheney was originally awarded $98,700 for work replacing water mains on L Street from West Third to West Fifth streets and D Street from Second to Third streets.

Public Works Director Todd Ableman said when bids were opened for the project they all came in at least $40,000 over the estimate. Cheney went back to the Spokane County Community Services, Housing and Community Development Department to ask if there was additional funding to help complete the project, and were told there was.

The council also approved a resolution for an $11,900 contract with PowerCom, Inc. to extend the city’s fiber communication network along First Street to the visitor’s center across from the K Street Park and Ride in order to hook up a sewer lift station located near the Terra Vista Development. Ableman said the work required was mostly overhead, with a little trenching, and should be done before inclement weather arrives.

Another resolution approved an interlocal agreement between Cheney and the Association of Washington Cities to form a self-insured pool. City Administrator Arlene Fisher told the council the AWC had been working on moving from an insured pool to a self-insured pool for the last several years as a way to meet the rising costs of health care.

Fisher said there are two bonuses to the city moving to the self-insured pool. First, there are no changes to the employee packages.

“Second, for the first time in years, and I think Tom (Mayor Trulove) and Cindy (Finance Director Niemeier) can attest to this, we’ve had a zero percent health insurance increase,” Fisher said.

Trulove noted the cities association group has better performance than many insurance companies, and being self-insured they would avoid a 2 percent tax on insurance companies being imposed as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“No increases this year and much lower ones in the future,” he added.

Three resolutions dealt with Cheney’s court system and Police Department. The council approved receipt of an additional $10,000 grant from the Washington State Office of Public Defense for extraordinary trial expenses and to help reduce attorney caseloads in 2013.

Cheney Municipal Court administrator Terri Cooper said the additional funding would bring the amount the city has received from the state office to $25,000. The city’s public defender has an annual 400-caseload limit, and as of June was at 180 cases.

The council also approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to accept lawyers appointed by the Municipal Court Judge to the Conflict Public Defender List. Two lawyers, Dianne Grecco and David Hearrean were added to the list the city could call upon to defend indigent clients should a conflict arise with the current public defender

The council also approved a memorandum of understanding to accept a $3,000 Washington Traffic Safety Commission grant to reimburse the city for police officers’ overtime expended as part of recent driving under the influence and saturation patrols. The city needed to enter into the MOU in order to receive the grant.

Council also approved a resolution authorizing a two-year extension of the city’s commute trip reduction agreement with the county at a cost of $7,267, a decrease of $3,742 from the previous contract. In the last resolution, council approved an extension of the interlocal agreement with the Cheney School District to hold before and after school programs, the only change being the addition of the recently opened Snowdon Elementary School as a third site for the programs.

Finally the council held all three hearings and final passage of Ordinance W-11, authorizing 2013’s third budget amendment. Finance Director Niemeier told the council the ordinance was needed to accept the CDBG street project and municipal court monies along with $56,000 in grants received recently by the Parks and Recreation Department.

The amendment also provided line items to offset depreciation schedules in water, solid waste and sewer fund equipment purchases, and $13,600 from Criminal Justice/CTED funds for a school resource officer.

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

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