The city of Millwood ended 2012 on solid financial footing.
During the regular City Council meeting Tuesday night, City Treasurer Debbie Matkin presented the good news during the 2012 Year-end Financial Report.
She reported that three funds – general, water and sewer – improved significantly from a year ago. Each of these funds shows surplus funds available.
“The biggest difference I noticed was the water,” Mayor Dan Mork said. “Water really did well.”
At an estimated $18,000 deficit in 2011, the water fund ended up with surplus of $33,496 for 2012. This is directly attributed to last year’s water rate increase.
The general fund had the greatest gains, netting a $132,905 surplus. Matkin attributes this to the city’s receipt of the final installment of the Department of Ecology Shoreline Management Grant and extra tax income from foreclosed properties.
Overall the city posted a total surplusnet profit of $207,000.
“We kept under in our spending by quite a lot,” Matkin said, noting the city’s spending was $50,000 less than budgeted. “A lot of it was just tightening our belts and not spending any money.”
The only negative to the report was the $61,000 used from revenue reserves to make the annual bond payment, leaving a reserve balance of $185,000.
In other city news, City Attorney Brian Werst updated the council on recent activity regarding the Shoreline Management Plan.
“We met with Ecology and talked through some issues relative to public access,” Werst said. “We’re still working at the staffing level to come up with some language solutions to vet with you, the public and Ecology.”
Werst reported that Ecology was clear that it would not accept the city’s desired use of the word “encouraging” when discussing public shoreline access across private land. Rather, Ecology held fast to its mandate that public access be required on private property.
Councilman Richard Shoen asked if other cities facing the same issue have been consulted. Werst said the city has talked with Spokane County, Spokane Valley, and Vancouver as well as surveyed other shoreline plans around the state.
Werst added that for future updates Ecology suggested the city consider taking a more regionalized approach to public access.
“The thing with our situation is that there is only one property owner that is affected by this aspect,” Shoen said, referring to Inland Empire Paper Co., which is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review. “I’m all for access but I just don’t see that we have the moral right to tell a property owner that they must provide access to the public.”
Following Werst’s update, Mork opened the floor for public comment.
Inland’s Environmental Manager Doug Krapas addressed council pointing to the Vancouver’s SMP language.
“I find it interesting that Ecology responded that they don’t support the city of Millwood’s language of ‘encouraged,’ ” Krapas said. He told the council that Vancouver’s recently passed plan used “encourage” when addressing public access. “Encourage is the first word, so why now do they say they won’t accept encourage when it has been adopted in a shoreline master program?”
Werst replied that “encouraged” is used in the policy but not in the regulation. Shoreline Management Plans contain both policy and regulations based on state laws but tailored to each community.
“I would implore the city to review those,” Krapas said about the language used in the Vancouver plan. “It appears to me that there are specific exclusions that may be agreeable.”
In other business, the council approved Mayor John Higgins from Medical Lake to be the city’s representative on the Emergency Management Policy Board. Higgins will represent cities with a population size ranging from 1,000 to 10,000.