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The City of Liberty Lake has been collecting a six percent utility tax on telephones, electricity, gas and cable since the beginning of the year. The decision behind this was based on an expected budget shortfall for 2011, with the option of reviewing the plan in six months. Mayor Wendy Van Orman announced the tax was expected to bring in $825,000 during 2011. As of June, the city had collected $586,628, about 71 percent of the expected amount.
Spokane will borrow more than $1 million from the state to help prevent untreated sewage from spilling into the Spokane River. The City Council on Monday agreed to accept a low-interest loan from the state Department of Ecology to pay for a sewage overflow tank already under construction near the T.J. Meenach Bridge. The topic arose Tuesday night in one of the first mayoral debates of the campaign.
The Fairfield City Council recently approved a 6 percent utility tax on all residents of the small town south of Spokane Valley. In the short term the money is needed to provide matching funds for a grant received from the Transportation Improvement Board to rehabilitate Main Street. In future years the town will use the income to purchase a new well generator and repair or replace street equipment.
About 20 people attended a special public hearing this week in Fairfield on a proposed utility tax, and opinions were split between those adamantly against any tax and those who said that while they didn’t like the idea, they understood the need for it. The Fairfield City Council is proposing a 6 percent utility tax on all Avista electric bills, a move that would bring in about $37,000 in revenue each year. It would add an additional $4.50 to a $75 electric bill and $12 to a $200 bill. “Our budget has been shrinking,” said Mayor Ed Huber. “Our expenses are going up.”
County commissioners are ready to bless a plan to make Spokane’s garbage burner more competitive with regional landfills. The deal, which could be approved today, would allow Spokane to order $15 million worth of plant improvements.
Water releases from Sullivan Lake will allow for more residential development in northeast Washington and provide additional stream flows for fish, wildlife and recreation. The Washington Department of Ecology and Pend Oreille County Public Utility District will sign an agreement for the releases today in Newport.
Officials at the Washington Department of Ecology have developed a plan to reduce temperatures and improve water quality in the Pend Oreille River.
The Liberty Lake City Council continued to hear ideas to help solve an impending budget crisis expected to hit the city sometime next year, including closing the library. During the council’s discussion Tuesday about the city’s budget woes, Mayor Wendy Van Orman explained the results of an online survey filled out by 150 citizens. Van Orman said that number represents 5 percent of the 2,500 households in the city.
Avista customers in Washington could see their electric rates go up 7.2 percent and their natural gas rates rise 3.2 percent starting Dec. 1, according to an agreement pending state approval. Under terms of a rate case settlement agreement announced Wednesday, the rate hikes would boost Avista’s annual electric revenues by $29.5 million and natural gas revenues by $4.6 million.
Avista customers in Washington will see their electric rates go up 7.2 percent and their natural gas rates rise 3.2 percent starting Dec. 1, according to an agreement pending state approval.
Avista’s Idaho customers can participate in a 7 p.m. hearing Thursday via telephone regarding the utility’s request for rate hikes. To listen or participate, customers should call (800) 920-7487. The pass code is 76373262.
As far as first jobs go, 17-year-old Darin Bonie believes he’ll have fond memories of his summer gig. In his workday, Bonie and four other teenagers walk several miles of streets, spray painting the ground at certain spots and distributing educational handouts as they march along. Their work is an important part of the Coeur d’Alene Stormwater Utility’s summer project to spread one clear-cut message: what goes into the city’s storm water drains ends up in the water where people go to play.
An archeological “open house” is being hosted by Pend Oreille Public Utility District, Kalispel Tribe and the Colville National Forest. Visitors interested in seeing the site should meet at the Panhandle Campground on the east side of the Pend Oreille River, 15 miles northwest of Newport, Wash., at 1 p.m. on June 14. Visitors will get a short briefing about the site before following the trip leader in their vehicles to the dig site where they can expect to view food processing ovens and other ancient features.
A $27.3 million federal economic stimulus grant promises cutting-edge fiber optic Internet service for southern Pend Oreille County, if officials accept it.