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Airway Height rate hike would fund water projects

City proposes gradual increase

The Airway Heights City Council conducted a public hearing Monday night, listening to citizens’ concerns over a proposed 5 percent water rate increase.

The city is proposing to raise rates $2.50-$2.75 per month for a single-family home to help repair old pipes and wells and connect new wells to the city water supply over the next three years.

“We’re at a juncture where these improvements are coming up where they will be necessary to construct over the next three years,” said Airway Heights City Manager Albert Tripp. “The reason we’re recommending the incremental rate increase is so that by year three when we’re constructing some of those improvements, we’re not asking for a 10 percent increase or something of that nature. Rather we can do it years in advance and make it smaller.”

The council will take action on the resolution at their next meeting Dec. 7. If the increase is passed, it will take effect in January.

“We have series of projects we have laid out for next year that we will begin construction on,” said Tripp. “Some of them are smaller in nature. They include main replacements. For example, in 2010 we have scheduled to construct pipelines from one of our wells to one of our reservoirs. It’s $280,000. Also in 2010, we have 1,000 linear feet of 12-inch water line (to repair). That’s another $290,000. In 2012, we have a new well source projected to come on line with a cost of $1.2 million. We also have projects as small as $6,500. All of those costs, incrementally, they add up. If you wait to the very end to try and finance them, then you’re looking at a much larger rate increase as opposed to a more incremental rate increase over three years.”

The council unanimously approved a number of measures at Monday night’s meeting. The city agreed with Spokane International Airport to facilitate an emergency bypass connection to Spokane’s sewer main. The council also approved a new contract with the Department of Corrections for offender work crew projects that will run until the end of October.

A resolution was adopted unanimously that will have Spokane County provide first-appearance services for the city in Spokane County District Court through 2010. The city currently holds court appearances at the City Courthouse only one day a week, so the resolution was adopted to help with cases that cannot be held in Airway Heights.

The council also was informed by Mayor Matthew Pederson that the city has a tentative agreement with the city of Spokane and Spokane County to annex less than a square mile of land east of the city’s current limit between Hayford Road and Spokane’s city limit. The agreement is a framework of how the procedure for annexation would take place.

“This is very consistent with our long-term vision in terms of that particular part of the community being a part of Airway Heights,” said Tripp. “We have sought to annex this particular area at least twice in the past, along with the city of Spokane. I think the agreement that we had on the agenda is a great illustration in which you have two or three communities working together to do something more proactively, rather than litigate annexations through the court.”

The city hopes to meet with the Spokane City Council and the Spokane County Commissioners to get their approval of the annexation.

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