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Few changes in Cheney Public Works 2014 budget


Cheney Public Works 2014 Budget

Presentation/Cheney Free Press graphic The chart above shows the application of expenditures for the Cheney Public Works Department.

The biggest change for Cheney's Public Works Department in 2014 isn't financial. It's administrative.

Community Development Director Brian Jennings departure last May left an opportunity for city officials to do some more downsizing, and the office responsible for planning and building construction services was rolled under the responsibility of Public Works Administration, with Public Works Director Todd Ableman and City Administrator Arlene Fisher splitting director responsibilities.

Community Development had been downsized in late 2012 from seven full-time employees to just three because of budget cuts, with a reduction in construction projects leading to one building inspector being let go and two others reassigned to Public Works.

2014 will mark the first full year of the new arrangement, which also includes code enforcement duties being divided up between planning, fire and police departments.

Virtually little else has changed in the Public Works projected 2014 budget. Revenue projections for 2014 are $6,786,900, with 75 percent of that coming from charges for services, followed by beginning cash – reserves – and grants both at 8 percent and taxes at 5 percent. The wastewater division receives 36 percent of the revenues, with solid waste next at 19 percent, the four street funds under transportation along with water both at 17 percent, with the remaining going to administration, building, shop and planning.

Expenditures are projected at $6.895 million, with most of the difference coming in Public Works Administration where revenue of $605,900 it $102,500 short of projected expenses of $708,400. Ableman said the difference is a result of the restructuring of Community Development, which was previously funded out of the general fund.

"Offsetting revenues would come (from the) General Fund," Ableman said in an email. "(The) Public Works Administration budget presentation (to City Council) included the Community Development Department portion of the budget which is a General Fund department. Public Works now oversees the Community Development Department. In the past Community Development budget presentation was presented with the General Fund departments."

No major capital requests were made in the 2014 budget with the exception of continuation of the city's residential and arterial street projects under the $1,178,500 transportation budget. Most of the money – 31 percent – is helping to maintain and upgrade Cheney's 45-plus miles of streets comes from the city's utility tax, with 28 percent in grants and 19 percent from both the motor vehicle excise tax and money transferred in.

The city does have a Community Development Block Grant application for money to help with its North Sixth Street water main project. Ableman told the City Council during its Nov. 12 meeting that they wouldn't know until May whether or not the request had been approved.

Ableman pointed to several notable accomplishments for the department in 2013, including completion of water main replacement projects on L Street from Third to Fifth streets and on D Street from Second to Third streets, as well as annual water lead repairs, the Residential Street project work and a successful third annual Cheney Clean Sweep. He also noted wastewater treatment plant employees successfully rehabilitated the facility's belt filter press and replaced a conveyor, with the former potentially costing the city over $250,000 if it had been removed and transported to the factory for repairs.

"Our guys tore it apart in the shop, rebuilt it and I think we came in under $68,000," Ableman said.

John McCallum can be reached at


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