Water and sewer on City Council menu

Passage of four ordinances will set table for Cheney to propose rate and fee changes down the road


The Cheney City Council held the first reading of five ordinances at its Feb. 25 meeting, most of which dealt with amending aspects of the city’s water and sewer system.

Ordinance W-28 amended chapter 1.27, “Civil Infraction System” of the city’s municipal code to include a new section for enforcement procedures for violations of the sewer system regulations, connections and installations along with water system connections, installations and backflow preventions. Public Works Director Todd Ableman told the council the new section was needed to put some sort of citation system in place, ranging from prescribed corrective measures to actual civil infractions varying from a $1,000 per day penalty for first time violations to $3,000 per day for a third repeat violation and beyond.

Ordinance W-29 amended portions of Chapter 15.04, “Sewer,” to incorporate recommendations governed by the state Department of Ecology, which consisted mostly of inserting definitions and cleaning up language. Ordinance W-30 dealt with a restructuring of rates, fees and charges, specifying these must now be set by council resolutions.

“That’s a big portion of the chapter,” Ableman said.

The ordinance also amended sanitary sewer connection standards and requirements so they more closely align with Cheney’s own design engineering standards. Ordinance W-31 would repeal chapter 15.12 of the municipal code containing language already found in other parts of the code and in the state RCWs.

Council approved the first reading of all four ordinances, moving them for consideration at the next council meeting, March 11. Mayor Tom Trulove said he hoped at that time the council would hold the second and third readings and final passage so the city could fix new sewer rates, after which a 30-day public comment period would be held before final implementation.

“We don’t normally do that,” Trulove said of the comment period. “But that’s the plan at least.”

Council also held the second reading of Ordinance W-27 that would adopt the city’s proposed 20-year capital facilities plan, reviewed at the Feb. 11 meeting. Ableman said he received no additional public comments since then, however Councilman John Taves told him he did have some comments but wanted to discuss these with Ableman, something that irritated Trulove. Taves apologized for not bringing the matter up before, and the council approved the second reading, moving the third reading and final passage to the next meeting.

Council also took action on a pair of resolutions, the first authorizing Light Department Director Joe Noland to sign a $21,530 contract to purchase 35 wood light poles of various sizes from McFarland Cascade. Noland said the bids received were close to last year’s prices.

The other resolution authorized Noland to sign a $16,000 contract with Sungard for the development of a program that would take information from the city’s system in a format that could be uploaded for use on the Itron metering system. Noland said several staff members created a master file of the information, but couldn’t imbed the file in the Itron system, and Sungard would be required to do the work at extra cost.

“I thought it was something we could pull off internally,” Noland said. “I was wrong.”

Among staff reports, Police Chief John Hensley said the city is now using Spokane County’s new 800 megahertz system, resulting in much better overall communications.

John McCallum can be reached at


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