July 23, 2009 in Washington Voices

City picks four finalists

Manager to pursue options on snow removal
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane Valley City Council named four finalists Tuesday for the council position Steve Taylor vacated last month.

They are Planning Commission Chairman Ian Robertson, former Planning Commissioner Fred Beaulac, retired minister Diana M. Sanderson and information technology engineer Ben T. Wick.

The council also authorized City Manager Dave Mercier to pursue two agreements that are expected to lead to a new snow-removal program before a county contract expires Oct. 15.

County commissioners’ decision to quit plowing Spokane Valley streets caused hard feelings among council members and threatened to rupture other agreements, but the City Council unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday to reinforce city-county cooperation on a new sewage treatment plant.

The agreement was designed to ensure the county gets the best rate possible on construction bonds in a process that was expected to begin Wednesday in San Francisco. To allay investors’ fears, the city guaranteed not to implement a competing sewage system, including contracting with the city of Spokane, until the 20-year bonds are paid off.

The agreement also guarantees the city government won’t have to pay any treatment plant costs, but gives the council an advisory role in setting rates. County commissioners approved the agreement earlier Tuesday.

Contract in works for snow-plow operation site

The Spokane Valley council has a tentative contract to lease the abandoned Waste Management maintenance yard at 11720 E. First Ave. for a city-run snow-plowing operation.

Councilman Bill Gothmann said the agreement is “just an absolute, great achievement.”

Public Works Director Neil Kersten said the 1.6-acre, centrally located facility will work with “minimal” changes.

The council unanimously authorized city officials to complete the three-year contract, which calls for an initial annual payment of $53,865 to $57,888 – to be determined by ongoing negotiations. The rate would go up 3 percent a year.

Council members also authorized the purchase of five surplus state Department of Transportation sander trucks for $92,700.

Kersten said the 1995 to 1997 vintage trucks are “still in fairly good condition and they’re well-maintained.”

He said he hoped to have a report in two weeks on the third key element of the winter road program: an agreement for the Post Falls office of Poe Asphalt Paving to provide the labor. The deal would be an addition to the company’s existing contract for summer street maintenance.

Kersten said the city would still need to buy some front-end loaders and a couple of trucks for liquid de-icer. It also needs contracts for road graders and operators on a standby basis, he said.

Overall costs remain elusive, but Kersten estimated real estate and equipment costs would be less than $200,000 – an amount Kersten was optimistic he could scrape out of the current budget. Operating costs will depend on the weather, he noted.

“This is wonderful work,” Munson said.

Council candidate interviews next week

The finalists for Taylor’s vacant position on the council are to be interviewed for 30 minutes each during next Tuesday’s regular council meeting. In addition to questions based on their applications, the candidates were given a two-page list of questions council members will pose randomly.

Council members plan to make their selection Aug. 4.

Whoever is appointed will have to get voters’ approval in the Nov. 3 general election to keep the job for the remaining two years of Taylor’s term. County election officials are expected to conduct a special three-day filing period on Aug. 26 to 28.

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