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Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
February 3, 2011     Cheney Free Press
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February 3, 2011

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Page 8 Free Press Thursday, February 3, 2011 Revenue Department offering tax amnesty Program waiving the penalties and interest on certain unpaid state business taxes began on Tuesday, Feb. 1 The Washington Depart- ment of Revenue&apos;s first-ever tax amnesty program began Tuesday, Feb. 1. Qualifying businesses with overdue taxes can apply to pay them without associated penal- ties and interest from Feb. 1 through April 30. "Hardworking business owners have faced some very tough economic times over the past several years," Revenue Department director Suzan DelBene said in a press release. "This program will help them meet their tax obligations with- out the additional burden of penalties and interest." The amnesty program was authorized by the Legislature during its special session last December at the request of Gov. Chris Gregoire. "This program will generate unpaid tax revenue that the state otherwise would spend months trying to recover, help- ing ease the state through its budget crisis," Gregoire said. "At the same time, it gives many businesses a fresh start in 2011, which so many busi- ness owners need following the great recession." To take advantage of the amnesty program, businesses must submit an application by April 18, and taxes due must be paid in full by April 30, 2011. Businesses can find com- plete program details and the program application at www. The Department of Revenue estimates that about 10,000 of 50,000 delinquent businesses and additional unregistered businesses will take advantage of the program, generating $24.4 million in state revenue and $3.9 million in local rev- enue. Hundreds of businesses al- ready have requested estimates of how much they would save if they agree to pay all back taxes during the amnesty window. Photo by John McCallum Just don't pull Cheney High School dance team members Ashia Mundt (left) and Crystal Harmon (right) give Jennifer Nutter some support in a move during their routine at half time of the girls basketball team's game last Friday night against West Valley. Medical Lake,.,; Parks and Re :r 9mien department to use former Pine Lodge gym By RYAN LANCASTER Staff Reporter Medical Lake will now be able to use gymnasium space at the former Pine Lodge Cor- rections Center through a short term lease agreement with the Department of Social and Health Services. On Tuesday Medical Lake City Council agreed to pay an amount not to exceed $1,500 per month to cover the facility's gas heating bill. In return the city's Parks and Recreation department, w-ill ,have ,full,,use,. 6f the gym for indoor com- munity sports activities, such as basketball and volleyball. City Administrator Doug Ross previously said the city plans to use the facility in January and February each year. In their last council meeting, Jan. 18, members questioned why DSHS would require the city to pay the gas bill for the entire 45-acre Pine Lodge facil- ity when it is not the sole user. DSHS was leasing Pine Lodge to the Department of Corrections before state budget cuts led to the prison's closure last May. ,Since,then.some bu, ildings have been used by Consolidated Sup- port Services, the maintenance and operations arm of DSHS that supports Eastern State Hos- pital and Lakeland Village, and ESH has permission to use the facility's greenhouse and adja- cent gardens for their patient horticulture program. "If you take the whole (gas) bill and you proportion it out by the hours we would use, we would be a minute portion com- pared to the 40 hours a week CSS uses it," Councilwoman Shirley Maike said. Other councilmembers agreed, saying CSS should pay its fair share, but Councilman Jeff King said even if the city has to pay the full bill it's a great deal when compared with other sports facility rentals. "I know it seems like it's a lot of money and we're not used to that, but as somebody that has had to rent facilities before for sporting events that is less than $6 an hour, which is extremely reasonable," he said. "If you were to go rent a facility for a team to practice in Spokane they're going be about $100 per hour." He estimated the gym would be used about 86 hours in a month. On Tuesday Ross said that On Tuesday Ross said that while the maximum the city will pay is $1,500, the utility bill will likely be much less. "I don't think it will be near that much; we set the temperature at 60 degrees... and it will only come on from the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.," he said.. Up until now the city has had an interlocal agreement with the Medical Lake School District al- lowing Parks and Recreation to use gyms at Hallett Elementary, Medical Lake Elementary and the middle school, Ross said. In ex- change the city pays for custodial services after each use. Parks and recreation director Ashlee King said it's sometimes been difficult to work around school schedules with limited space, especially during the busy indoor sports season. Adult co- ed volleyball just started a few weeks ago and youth basketball started in early January with a record number of teams, both running until early March. King said yoga, jazzercise and other exercise classes are currently be- ing held at City Hall but in the future she'd "ideally like to take full advantage of gym space" at Pine Lodge. Ryan Lancaster can be reached at Airway Heights could benefit from state's proposed prison population counts bill By RYAN LANCASTER Staff Reporter A bill now moving through the state legislative process would allow the cities of Airway Heights and Connell to remove inmates from their population rolls in cer- tain instances. House Bill 1028, sponsored by Ninth District Rep. Joe Schmick (R - Col fax), authorizes Washington cities and towns to ignore prison populations within city limits when calculating their eligibility for certain grant ftmding opportunities or when determining the number of city coun- cil members they must have. The only cities affected by the bill are Airway Heights, home to Airway Heights Corrections Cen- ter, and Connell, which contains Coyote Ridge Corrections Center. "The reduction (of prison populations) would open us up for grants that we've not been able to attain since we were designated a higher popula- tion status." Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing non-inmate population is around 2,700, but a recent prison expansion inflates the town's total population to well above 5,000, the number that separates big cities from small cities under Washington law. "If Connell had to bump over that threshold it would have to compete for grants or funds with cities of up to 50,000," Schmick said. "(HB1028) also protects them from having to recruit more council and board members." city reaches more than 5,000 resi- dents, which Schmick said would create a financial and administra- tive burden for the city. Airway Heights has had a seven-member dais for years and already sits well above the small cities threshold when prison counts are included, but city officials have thrown their support behind HB1028, saying it could help Air- way Heights in the short term. "The reduction (of prison popu- higher population status," Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said during a November City Council discussion of HB1028. "By supporting the legislation that Con- nell is pushing through it would benefit us, at least temporarily, until the annexation goes through." Under an annexation scheduled to go into effect Jan. 2012 Airway Heights will incorporate a half square mile of land on its eastern edge, bringing the number of non-inmate residents back above the small cities threshold. But if HB1028 is passed before then Airway Heights could apply for Small City Pavement and Sidewalk Account grants, which fund street maintenance, repair and resurfac- ing to cities and towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. HB1028 was originally intro- duced in the 2010 session and passed unanimously on the House floor, but time ran out before it could make it to a vote in the Sen- ate. In the 2011 session it has so far passed both House and Senate committees and the House floor, but after a minor wording amend- ment in the Senate the bill must run back through the process before final approval and signature by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Though the process has been delayed, Rushing said final approval of the bill looks likely at this time. Ryan Lancaster can be reached at Airway Heights has a total popula- Current state law would require lations) would open us up for [S tion of about 5,600, roughly 2,900, Connell to transition from five to grants that we ve not been able to I -<:l,,l:,,', Friends of Turnbull Wild Life Refuge annual auction March 27 II The Friends of Turnbull Na- Thousands of children have Lincoln St., Spokane. There will tional Wildlife Refuge will hold its fourth annual auction on March 27 from noon to 4 p.m. Funds raised will support Tumbull's environ- mental education programs. had a quality experience with nature because of these pro- grams. The auction will be held at the Lincoln Center at 1316 N. be a pasta dinner with salad, dessert and a no-host bar. 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