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Cheney council OKs fire crew compensation

Ordinance allows exempt staff to collect extra pay for wildland fire fighting


September 6, 2018

At its final meeting in August, the Cheney City Council approved an ordinance modifying the city’s salary structure in a way that will allow some employees to collect additional compensation when on state fire mobilization.

The ordinance, X-47, specifies that city staff in exempt positions may work on occasion as part of the Washington State Fire Service team in fighting wildland fires. If so, the Cheney employee will now be paid one and a half times their normal pay rate for work outside of their normal work hours.

City Administrator Mark Schuller told the council the ordinance was needed because the city now has a fire chief — Tom Jenkins — who is willing to take an active part in state mobilization. The previous fire chief, Mike Winters, was not inclined to do so.

Schuller said the employee receives the additional compensation from the city, with Cheney receiving reimbursement from the Washington State Patrol. The state Fire Marshal’s Office, who is responsible for instituting fire mobilizations, is part of the WSP.

Schuller added that the extra amount covers any “incidentals” that the employee may incur while on mobilization.

“It’s (X-47) modeled after a similar one in Airway Heights,” Schuller said. “It’s consistent with other agencies.”

In other action items, the council approved a $28,650 bid from Five Star Concrete, Inc. for sidewalk removal and replacement at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The total bid with tax comes to $31,171.20, with the council approving an overall appropriation of $34,500 to cover any contingencies.

Council also passed a resolution naming Schuller as the city’s representative to the Northwest Requirement Utilities board of directors.

In information items, the council heard a presentation from Eastern Washington University by President Dr. Mary Cullinan and business and finance vice president Mary Voves. Cullinan said university officials expect enrollment this year to be flat, but could possibly be seeing the largest freshmen class in Eastern history.

Cullinan said university officials plan to return to the Legislature this coming January to lobby for about $111 million in funding to help remodel the existing Science Building. Eastern was successful in getting $67 million in funding from the state earlier this year for building the new Interdisciplinary Science Center, being built next to the older building.

“We’re being seen more and more as Washington’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) university,” Cullinan said.

Voves added that construction is wrapping up on the $50 million remodel of the Pence Union Building, with the student union facility scheduled to reopen this October. Voves also said work is going to be taking place on renovating a number of the university’s campus recreation facilities such as the Thorpe Fieldhouse, tennis courts and soccer field.

The university is also undertaking parking changes on and around campus, adding and removing meters. Voves said they have “more than enough” space on campus for parking, and needed to look at where changes could be made to best utilize what’s available.

“Our goal is to not push them (parking) out into the neighborhoods and disrupt people’s lives,” she added.

In citizen comments, residents Jeremy and Nancy Street reiterated earlier concerns they expressed about alleged “aggressive dogs” in their neighborhood and elsewhere in the city. Jeremy Street said his objective is to get the city to pass an ordinance requiring landlords who allow their tenants to have “dangerous” dogs to be responsible for also providing proper fencing to protect residents who do not have such animals.

John McCallum can be reached at


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