The Spokane Valley City Council moved in the footsteps of Spokane County Commissioners Tuesday night by unanimously agreeing to advance to a second reading an ordinance banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The commissioners have already voted to approve a similar ban.
The Spokane County Health District has led a push to get Spokane County jurisdictions to pass the restrictions because e-cigarettes are not yet regulated by state or federal law. “This is a stop gap measure,” said acting city attorney Cary Driskell.
Under the proposed ordinance a business could be fined $513 for selling to a minor and minors could be fined $103 for being in possession of an e-cigarette.
In a series of unanimous votes, with councilman Bob McCaslin absent, the council dealt quickly and efficiently with several issues Tuesday. A memorandum of understanding between the city and Spokane County to pay for the repaving of roads ripped up for sewer installation was approved. There are two projects planned for this summer and the city’s cost is expected to be $900,000, said Neil Kersten, public works director. That estimate is less than the $1.9 million the city had planned to spend.
The council also approved sending a letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire and the leaders of the state’s budget committee in support of keeping funding for the Museum of Arts and Culture. Councilman Dean Grafos suggested sending the letter at the previous council meeting, noting that the museum plays a unique and important role in Eastern Washington.
The process of filling the vacant council seat caused by the resignation of former council member Rose Dempsey was changed slightly during the meeting. The date the council will vote on which candidates to interview has been changed to March 22, interviews will be done on March 29 and the date of the vote to appoint a replacement was changed to April 5. The deadline for candidates to submit applications has not changed and is still March 4.
Councilwoman Brenda Grassel said she has been watching the process of picking a new 4th District senator. “Do we ever do a background check on applicants?” she said.
City Manager Mike Jackson said the city does such checks on employees, but not elected officials.
In a related matter, the council approved several appointments by Mayor Tom Towey to fill various board seats vacated by Dempsey. Towey will take her place on the Spokane Regional Health District board, Councilman Gary Schimmels will serve on the Wastewater Policy Advisory board and Grassel will take the seat on the International Trade Alliance Advisory Board. Dempsey will continue to serve on the Spokane Clean Air Board and submit regular reports to the council. Her term on that board will end in December.
In other business, the council gave its consent for the public works department to apply for “New Freedom” grants through the Spokane Regional Transportation Council. The grants would be for sidewalks as well as accessible bus stops and shelters. Only $252,000 is available, Kersten said. “We have been working with STA to develop a list of projects,” he said. “It seems like a great opportunity to improve some of the sidewalks.”
The list of projects includes filling sidewalk gaps on Montgomery Avenue between University and Wilbur roads and on Fourth Avenue from University to Pierce Road. Kersten said the projects should score well and the city has a good chance of getting money. “I don’t think too many are going to apply,” he said.
Grassel questioned where the city would get the money needed for matching funds, which is 20 percent of the total project cost. Kersten said there are a couple of options since it would be such a small amount. “I don’t see it as an issue,” he said.