Airway Heights taps fund to balance 2010 budget

In its final meeting of 2009, the Airway Heights City Council unanimously passed the 2010 budget for the city. The city utilized approximately $63,000 from its fund balance in order to balance its budget of about $4 million for the upcoming year.

“We would have avoided using a portion of the fund balance if the economy would have performed better,” said City Manager Albert Tripp. “Since our economy was soft, with our revenues that we projected for this year, we didn’t meet budget as far as revenue projections. It then afforded us more headway in minimizing the use of the fund balance.”

The city also was able to narrow the budget deficit for 2009 due to projects such as the Advanced Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

“In 2010, it remains to be seen if there will be large construction projects to what we saw this year,” Tripp said. “We do know there will be some from the standpoint of public initiative projects. We have Phase II of our Wastewater Reclamation Plant that is still under way. It will continue into 2010 and 2011. I think there is about $30 million in expenditures there, so that will be a source of one-time revenues. In terms of larger commercial projects that we saw this year, that remains to be seen whether we will see more of those come in the door next year.”

The council unanimously approved a sewer capacity purchase agreement with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The agreement will allow the Kalispel Tribe to purchase 120,000 gallons per day of sewer capacity from the city’s Advanced Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

“It’s been an ongoing negotiation for a number of years, looking at the Kalispel developments with what they have going into the ground with the expansion of the gaming facility, the addition of the hotel, and also looking forward to the 252-acre retail commercial development,” said Mayor Matthew Pederson.

A new collective bargaining agreement between the city and the Washington State Council of County and City Employees Local 270-A was also unanimously approved by the council. The agreement between the city and the local will be in place from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012, and keeps the same agreement terms as the previous contract.

“The partnership that we have with the union and the work that they did during this last negotiation, they looked to understand the economic situation the entire county is looking at, and more specifically the city,” Tripp said. “That was in the forefront of the negotiation process. That’s why the agreement reflects what it does in preserving the status quo in 2010.”

The City Council unanimously approved an extension of the Spokane County Interlocal Ambulance Agreement until March 31 to allow the Ambulance Board to finalize contract language of a new agreement and to finalize proposals for ambulance service.

The council also swore in three members to begin service with the council’s first meeting in January. Incumbent Kevin Richey from Position 5, newly elected Tanya Dashiell in Position 4 and Steve Lawrence in Position 2 were sworn in to service. The city also swore in newly elected Mayor Patrick Rushing, who defeated Pederson by two votes in the Position 1 election. The City Council also honored Pederson at the meeting for eight years on the council, the last four as mayor, and outgoing Councilman Donald Mitchell.

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