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Crime rate down, sheriff tells council

The city of Millwood had less crime last year.

At Monday’s Millwood City Council meeting, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said crime dropped 10 percent from the previous year.

“That is a good thing for your city,” Knezovich said.

Knezovich reported Millwood had about 400 calls for service, 150 of which were traffic related, in 2011. During his report, he expressed concern over the lack of manpower in the Sheriff’s Office, specifically in the traffic unit.

“That is the No. 1 concern of citizens when I talk to them in community meetings,” Knezovich said. “It’s not the drug house on corner, it’s the speeders in my neighborhood.”

Knezovich said that due to budget cuts, his office has experienced a 15 percent reduction in workforce, equivalent to 36 deputies. Manpower in unincorporated areas fell to less than one officer per 1,000 citizens, Knezovich said. Now at 0.65 per 1,000, the manpower ratio was previously 1.1 per 1,000.

“There is roughly 2,700 miles of roadway in Spokane County that now three deputies are responsible for taking care of 24/7, 365 days a year,” Knezovich said.

With limited resources for law enforcement, Knezovich told the council, public safety rests on the prioritizing of local government.

“Public safety in my opinion is really the driving force between economic development and sustainable communities,” Knezovich said. “If you lose control of your crime rates, who’s going to come and invest in your community?”

As part of its agenda, the council approved an ordinance changing the regular council meeting from the first Monday of each month to the second Tuesday.

“This is a big change,” City Planner Tom Richardson said. “It’s hard to break long-standing traditions.”

The council made the change to allow city staff additional time to collect and distribute information before each meeting. The change goes into effect in May.

Ray Oligher, assistant city planner, presented a progress update on the city’s Shoreline Management Plan, which covers the riverbed, surface of the water and 200 feet of shoreline.

The Shoreline Master Plan draft was sent to the Citizens Advisory Committee in February and received comments from Inland Empire Paper in March. The city hopes to get comments from the Department of Ecology this month.

Inland Empire Paper is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

A draft of the Restoration Plan is in process and Oligher said it should be completed by the end of the month. He added that the city plans to have a draft adopted and sent to the Department of Ecology by the end of the year.

The Shoreline Management Act was adopted in 1972. In 2003 the Washington state Legislature required all 239 statewide jurisdictions to update their Shoreline Master Programs to include “no net loss” of shoreline ecological functions, restoration planning, and assessment of reasonable foreseeable cumulative impact.

In other business, maintenance supervisor Cleve McCoul reported finding two leaks in the city water system.

“One was pretty big,” McCoul said about the leak located in the West Valley High School baseball field.

McCoul estimates the leak was losing 60 gallons of water a minute.

The line was turned off and the city plans repairs as weather permits. The second leak was much smaller, he said.