Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Airway Heights limits caseloads

City Council approves public defender services contract similar to Cheney, ML


The city of Airway Heights followed suit with other municipalities regarding the public defender caseload rules the Washington Supreme Court and Legislature recently adopted.

At its Feb. 6 meeting, the City Council approved an amendment to the city’s public defender service contract with Maurer Law. The amendment proposes to increase the contract from $4,000 to $4,833 per month.

City Manager Albert Tripp gave two reasons for the contract amendment, that being the increase in the city’s caseload activity.

In 2014, the city entered into an interlocal agreement with the Kalispel Tribe for them to send defendants to Airway Heights Municipal Court. Tripp explained that the city’s caseload grew 7 percent in 2014 and 22 percent in 2015, which in turn boosted caseload activity to the public defender. The agreement allows the city to invoice the Kalispel Tribe to cover costs if the caseload goes over 5 percent.

Tripp’s other reason for the amendment is Maurer Law has implemented practices that allow the court to solve more cases. The firm’s pre-trial docket averaged 45-55 cases, now it averages less than 30 cases per docket.

At its Nov. 14, 2016 study session, council voted to move the amendment to its next meeting. However, the document never made to the Nov. 21 agenda — or any of the meetings in December and January.

“It was something council authorized, but it failed to get into the packet,” Tripp said.

The agreement also allows the public defender to invoice $833 for retroactive payment, which Tripp said allows him to “recoup retroactive pay” for his services in January.

In other action items, Council approved the purchase of two patrol vehicles for the Police Department, at a cost of $79,201.96. Police Chief Lee Bennett said the new vehicles would replace aging cars. Both vehicles are Ford Police Interceptors with all-wheel drive capability.

“The funding will come out of the Kalispel Impact fee,” Bennett said.

Council also approved a contract extension amendment with West Coast Code Consultants Inc.

The city entered into an agreement with the company in September to provide emergency building inspection services while senior building inspector Cindy Reddekopp was out of the field. The contract extension allows the company to provide plan review and emergency backup building services on an on-call basis.

“The agreement is in the interim while staff attains certification in these areas (plan review),” Tripp said.

In other business:

• Council approved the appointment of Jason Monteleone and reappointment of Alissa Adams to the Parks Advisory Board..

Al Stover can be reached at


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