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Shoreline update process explained

State expert says city made good start toward 2013 deadline

Shoreline and budgets were key topics of discussion Monday night at the Millwood City Council meeting.

The meeting opened with a presentation by Jaime Short, shoreline planner with the Washington state Department of Ecology. Short gave a brief Shoreline Management Program update and then fielded questions.

“It’s a complex process,” Short said about the program. “Generally it takes a jurisdiction about three years to complete, sometimes longer.”

Short detailed the lengthy process and emphasized the goal of the program is ‘no net loss’ of shoreline ecological functions.

“This is the driving force behind most requirements,” Short said. “This is a standard you have to achieve, but how you get there is up to you.”

She emphasized the need to plan for any reasonable and foreseeable impacts on the city’s shoreline. The shoreline management plan covers the riverbed, surface of the water and 200 feet inland of the shoreline.

Another key component of the plan is engaging community involvement.

“Their participation is critical during the process,” Short said. “You have done a nice job to date of getting citizens involved, putting information out there.”

The Shoreline Management Act was adopted in 1972. In 2003 the Washington Legislature required all 239 statewide jurisdictions to update their Shoreline master programs. The deadline for the city to submit the update is Dec. 1, 2013.

City Attorney Brian Werst questioned Short on the coordination among the four different jurisdictions implementing plans for the Spokane River.

“There is a requirement to coordinate the law,” Short said. “We support that by sharing everybody’s work. There is coordination through efficiency.”

The council also heard a general overview of the preliminary 2012 budget presented by City Treasurer Debbie Matkin. “Our numbers are so raw,” Matkin said. “I don’t anticipate them staying this way.”

Matkin noted the 2012 budget, which forecasts an estimated $17,413 deficit in the water fund, is set for final approval next month. She said raising water rates to offset the deficit at this time would be premature as the city is currently undergoing a rate review by Andy O’Neill from Rural Community Assistance Corp. O’Neill is paid through a state program at no charge to the city.O’Neill plans to present his findings soon.

Matkin suggested transferring $61,000 from bond reserves to the bond fund for payment due next year. Previously in 2011, Matkin said, the city used $107,000 from bond reserves.

Councilman Glenn Bailey asked if the city was maintaining the required reserves. Matkin said the city is 10 percent behind the required amount.

“We’re actively taking steps to be where we need to be,” Matkin said.