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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Utility tax, land top budget issues for Liberty Lake Council

As Liberty Lake puts together its 2014 budget, city officials must make two big decisions: whether to continue a 3 percent utility tax and what to do with vacant land at Mission Avenue and Signal Drive. No one commented during a recent public hearing on the budget, said city Finance Director R.J. Stevenson, but he’s sure he’ll be hearing more about the city’s hot topics. “I hear more when we have our public hearings in November,” he said.

City utility e-billing slow to gain favor

Nearly a decade after Spokane first offered residents the ability to pay their bills online, the vast majority of city water, sewage and trash customers continue to receive paper bills. While this reluctance to pay with a computer instead of writing a check has begun to fade, city officials say there’s a long way to go before city billing is a paperless exercise.

The dirt on digging

Digging up buried utility lines may give you the shock of a lifetime. But it will zap your wallet as well. Anyone who fails to use Washington’s free “Call Before You Dig” service and who unearths gas or electric lines faces stiffer penalties this year.

Avista rates to rise next week

Avista Corp. will raise electric and gas rates in Washington in the new year and again in 2014 under an agreement with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Following months of negotiations between the Spokane-based utility and state regulators, Avista customers will pay 2 percent more for electricity and 3.7 percent more for natural gas beginning next Tuesday, New Year’s Day.

Condon presents 2013 budget

Spokane Mayor David Condon got right to the point in his required address regarding the city’s “conditions and affairs.” “Our conditions are stable in a time of financial uncertainty,” he said Monday night in the second sentence of the speech, which is required annually by the City Charter.

Need for speed: Broadband comes to rural areas

Think of the fastest Internet speed you experience. Now multiply that by 10, 50 or even 100. It’s coming … to Pend Oreille County. Most rural communities lag in the type of broadband Internet service available in urban areas. But northeast of Spokane, in Newport and the surrounding hills and valleys, around 5,000 homes and businesses have the chance to connect soon to a fiber-optic system with lightning-fast speed.

Condon vows not to raise taxes despite forecast

Another year, another multimillion-dollar deficit at Spokane City Hall. New figures announced Tuesday forecast a $10 million budget shortfall for the city in 2013. Despite that, Spokane Mayor David Condon pledged that his 2013 general fund budget proposal will not include higher taxes.

Mill Pond Dam scheduled for removal

A defunct hydroelectric dam in Pend Oreille County is scheduled for removal, which will eventually return Sullivan Creek to a more natural trout stream. The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a permit to start the paperwork for the Mill Pond Dam’s removal. The dam was built in 1921 to produce power for the community of Metaline Falls, but it hasn’t produced electricity since the 1950s.

Verner looks back at trials, triumphs

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will leave office at the end of the week as the city’s longest serving strong mayor of the four who have served in that capacity. But she also will be the 10th mayor in a row to only serve one term.

Rush proposes end to city utility tax

It was as if pigs had grown wings and landed on the roof of Spokane City Hall. George McGrath, a conservative, longtime follower and critic of the City Council, approached the microphone at this week’s meeting and praised a plan proposed by outgoing liberal Councilman Richard Rush.

Liberty Lake council eyes budget with utility tax in mind

The Liberty Lake City Council met Tuesday to discuss next year’s budget and whether to cut the utility tax and pay off some debt the city has accrued over the last 10 years. After looking at the history of Liberty Lake’s budget since 2007, the council then took a look at what to do about 2012.

Eye on Boise: Put lifetime of hunting, fishing under tree

BOISE – Need a whopper of a gift idea for the outdoors enthusiast on your list? Idaho Fish and Game has one: A lifetime of Idaho hunting or fishing – or both. Fish and Game has been offering lifetime license certificates since the late 1980s, and since 1995, they’ve sold 7,895 of them. The lifetime certificates can be purchased only at Fish & Game regional offices or their state headquarters; they vary in price depending on age. “Occasionally people will come in and buy a lifetime license certificate for a child,” said spokesman Niels Nokkentved. “It’s a pretty good deal if you’re a young person, not so good perhaps if you’re a senior citizen.”

Eye on Boise: Idaho’s dimmer economic outlook mirrors nation’s

BOISE – Idaho’s new economic forecast is out, and it’s a gloomier outlook than the state’s last forecast in July – though it still predicts growth. The change comes mainly because national forecasts have cooled, raising the likelihood that the national economy could slip into a recession from 25 percent in July to 40 percent in October.

Utility rate hikes on agenda

Of all the proposals to raise utility rates this year in Spokane, it’s the smallest one that may have the smallest chance of approval. The Spokane City Council on Monday will consider three utility rate increases for 2012: a 13.5 percent increase for sewer service, a 5.5 percent increase for trash and the creation of a 25-cent monthly urban forestry fee that would be added to the existing stormwater fee, which otherwise would remain flat at $3.60 a month. The council already approved a boost to water rates.