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In brief: Avista to donate $250,000 to community in December

Avista Corp. will donate $250,000 in December to benefit 37 food banks, 21 community nonprofit agencies, the Boys & Girls Club of Spokane County and The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund, officials announced Tuesday.

The gifts bring the total value of donations for 2014 to $1.7 million from both the Avista Foundation and Avista Corp.

The company also built and donated the Gathering Place, a public space at City Hall, valued at $2 million, and made a $6.5 million contribution to the Avista Foundation to sustain future giving. Funds for Avista’s donations come from company profits. They are not included as a cost to customers in retail rates, officials said.

Company employees also average 50,000 hours of volunteer work each year, Scott Morris, Avista’s chairman, president and CEO said in a statement.

Chicago council votes to raise minimum wage

CHICAGO – Chicago’s minimum-wage workers will earn $13 an hour by 2019 under a plan the City Council approved overwhelmingly Tuesday.

The move raises Illinois’ $8.25 rate – which is $1 higher than the federal rate – incrementally. It will get bumped to $10 next year.

City officials estimate roughly 400,000 Chicago workers will benefit from the change, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes will “jolt” state lawmakers into action. Legislators are considering a statewide hike to $11 by 2017.

Opponents say an increase could lead to job losses. Two of the five aldermen who voted against the measure are business owners who fear establishments will leave Chicago.

Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner supports a minimum-wage increase only in conjunction with other reforms. He says Emanuel should be mindful of Chicago’s competitiveness.

U.S. home prices accelerated in October

WASHINGTON – U.S. home prices rose at a faster year-over-year pace in October than in September, snapping a seven-month slowdown.

Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that prices increased 6.1 percent in October compared with 12 months earlier. That was up from September’s year-over-year increase of 5.6 percent.

Still, home values are rising more slowly than they were earlier this year, when 12-month gains were averaging nearly double their current pace.

The price momentum began to tail off in the middle of the year as home values in more cities and states neared the record highs last seen shortly before the recession began in late 2007.

Higher prices have reduced affordability, especially because the incomes of many would-be buyers have yet to match their prerecession levels. Lending standards also remain comparably tight.

Construction spending increases 1.1 percent

WASHINGTON – Newly built homes and schools boosted U.S. construction spending in October to the highest level since May.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction spending rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in October, after having slipped 0.1 percent in September.

Fueling the gains in October was a 1.8 percent increase in spending on single-family houses. A similar boost in building schools led to a 2.3 percent increase in government construction spending. Meanwhile, private construction of power plants and commercial centers slipped in October.