State officials may waive most of nearly $18,500 in bills sent to Airway Heights so far for snow plowing services along a portion of U.S. Highway 2 within city limits.
No final decision has been reached but DOT spokesman Al Gilson said the agency is considering a possible waiver of $13,878 billed to the city for snow plowing services during 2013. Airway Heights also was billed about $4,600 for November and December of last year, while a bill for January has yet to be calculated and sent, Gilson said.
Airway Heights and the state DOT disagree over who should pay for snow plowing along the 2.5-mile stretch of Highway 2, which could range from $30,000 to $50,000 per year based on DOT estimates but so far hasn't reached even the low end of that.
Even though cities generally are responsible under state law for all plowing services within their boundaries, DOT crews had long taken care of it, largely because they had to pass through the city anyway. But following a massive West Plains annexation in 2011, that changed.
Airway Heights contends the highway serves a statewide purpose as a critical freight and commercial corridor, noting the average number of vehicles traveling that section each day is more than triple the city's entire population of 7,500, and the city can't afford the added cost.
Gilson said the state has been trying to work with the city while the issue gets sorted out. Airway Heights officials have briefed the region's legislative delegation and made trips to Olympia looking for help.
DOT didn't bill the city for the first year, he said, and discussions are underway for waiving the 2013 charges.