Thursday, March 21, 2013

City Council in Brief

For those who missed the Council meeting this week, here are highlights. 

Council approves new wastewater rates and fees
Effective April 1, wastewater rates and capitalization fees will increase. Residents and commercial customers will see their monthly wastewater bills increase 8.50 percent this year and 2014. The increase will drop to 8 percent in 2015 and each year until 2017. The average residential user will see their current $24.43 bill rise to $26.40 this year. Even with the increase, the monthly charge is still lower than the Idaho average of $28.38. One-time capitalization fees will also increase. A single-family dwelling with a present cap fee of $2,788 will now pay $3,325. There will be no further cap fee increases for the 5-year period. Like the monthly rates, cap fees are also below the Idaho average of $3,354.

City to draft ballot language for wastewater upgrades
The City is considering going to voters for approval of $33.5 million to use in upgrading its wastewater treatment plant to meet the federally mandated discharge permit compliance schedule and stringent discharge limits. City Attorney Mike Gridley and Wastewater Superintendent Sid Frederickson presented the option to Council as a way to move the project forward. The City has sought judicial confirmation that the project is ordinary and necessary, and thus incurring debt to finance the project does not require a vote under the constitutional restriction on indebtedness. Long-term borrowing spreads the payments over 20 years and keeps rates affordable. The EPA and DEQ are requiring the City along with others along the Spokane River to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants in an effort to reduce levels of oxygen-demanding contaminants discharged into the river. Faced with a substantial delay in the judicial confirmation process, a tight federal deadline and potential fines of $37,500 per day for noncompliance, the City is considering a public vote in May as an alternate method to gain approval to borrow money for the project. The City Attorney will bring ballot language back to the Council at its April 2 meeting. Language must be sent to the County Clerk by April 5 to make the scheduled May 21, 2013 election. 

Council sets public hearing on budget amendments
The public will have the opportunity to share comments on whether to adopt the City’s proposed amended budget at the Council’s next meeting, April 2. The proposal increases total expenditures by 7.7 percent. Increases in expenditures include the McEuen Park project, Ramsey baseball field, acquisition of Person and Bryan Field, improvements at Phippeny Park, grants in the Fire Department and changes in the wastewater utility.

Repairs approved for Landings Well
City Council approved a change order for the rehabilitation of the Landings Well Pump to RC Worst & Co. Inc. The Landings Well Rehabilitation Project was bid out as part of the Water Department’s bi-annual maintenance program. RC Worst & Co was the lowest bidder. The well is suspected of having a leak and has been taken out of service for repair. Rehabilitation of the well pump will cost $67,500.

Water Department to buy two new vehicles
Council approved the order of two new work vehicles for the Water Department. The vehicles will be purchased from Lake City Ford and will replace two utility vehicles that are over 10 years old.  The new vehicles are a 2013 F150 short box pickup, which will cost $21,213, and a 2013 F150 long box pickup, which will cost $21,475.

Porky G’s to operate Memorial Field concession stand
Council granted Porky G’s a one-year least to operate the concession stand at Memorial Field. The restaurant will pay the City $3,375, plus all electricity costs associated with operating the stand. The concession stand has serviced all events at Memorial Field and the north side of City Park for more than 60 years. Porky G’s plans to expand its menu to offer varieties of barbecue sandwiches.

Kayak tours to continue at Independence Point Beach
Council approved a three-year agreement with ROW Adventures to use Independence Point Beach to launch kayaks and guided tours. ROW Adventures used the location on a trial basis over the past three years. The company will pay 5% of its gross tour income to the Parks Department Capital Improvement Fund for use of the location. The City can terminate the contract without cause if there are any problems for beach users or boating traffic. There were no such instances during the trial period.

Council approves beer and wine licenses
City Council approved beer and wine licenses for The Country Club, Bullman’s Wood Fired Pizza and The Locker Room Salon.

Jewett House to allow alcohol at events
Alcohol can now be served at weddings and other special events at the Jewett House. City Council voted to amend the current city ordinance regarding alcohol on public property to allow for alcohol to be served at the Jewett House by permit only. Money received from the permits will assist the Jewett House Board in raising funds. Only a licensed caterer will be allowed to serve alcohol at the House. No alcohol will be allowed on the beach.