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Cheney Free Press
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October 22, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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October 22, 2015
 

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CHENEY FREE PRESS Thursday, October 22, 2015 NEWS continued from page 1 ricers to in 2006. Or the murder-suicide at the Rosebrook Motel in 2013, the gunpoint robbery at Maverik in 2014 and the brawl last CK'tober during a Eastern Washington University students' party on Fourth Street. That incident resulted in one Cheney officer injured and was only brought under control with the appearance of officers from outside agencies, including the Spokane County Sheriff's Office's K9 unit. These and more "routine" calls are becoming more challenging to handle as the department's call volume increases, while its supply of personnel able to handle the situations does not. It's led Conley and fellow officers at the Cheney Police Guild to lobby, and finally succeed, in getting the city to put a measure on the upcoming Nov. 3 general election ballot to raise the city's property tax levy lid. "We've always had a shortage of officers and always needed bodies as long as I've been here," Conley said. 5500.000.00 5450,000.00 $400.000.00 5350,000.00 $300,000,00 5250,000.00 5200.000.00 5150.000.00 5100,000.00 550,000.00 5- City of Cheney Annual State Shared Revenues 1996 - 2014 ~ Sales Tax Equal i|! IIIIU Y] 1996 ............................................ :.,..~:f;.. .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 BCity Assistance I DUI - Cities m Mobile Home Motor Vehicle Liquor Excise Liquor Profit Chart courtesy of city of Cheney Finance Department The chart above shows state shared revenues for the city of Cheney from 1996 - 2014. After a steady rise According to information from the city, if passed by a simple majority, Proposition I would increase the city's property tax levy from its current $2.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to its fully authorized limit of $3.10 per $1,000 of valuation. It would result in an estimated increase to the city's general fund of $410,975. It would be a one-time lift, with the yearly valu- ation permanently set at $3.10, resulting m an extra $8.75 monthly charge, $105 annually, to the owner of a $150,000 home. While the money would go into the general fund, from which other departments pull revenues, city of- ficials have stressed the levy lid lift is for police and fire use. Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove reminded City Council members and staff of this pledge at an Oct. 6 budget workshop dealing with the general fund. At that meeting both Hensley and Fire Chief Mike Winters read off a litany of needed items, with Winters saying his list totaled about $1.5 million, including a new main attack engine along with new and updated airpacks, firefighter turnouts and hoses, which haven't been replaced since the early 1980s. Hensley's list also included equipment, such as sev- eral new vehicles, computers for the vehicles, radios and officer training to keep current with updated procedures. According to information from the Association of Washington Cities, liquor revenue will drop in the city of Cheney by the following projected amounts: 2013 $153,346 2014 $110,497 2015 $ 66,053 2016 $ 42,565 2017 $ 46,854 Subtotal from 2013 - 2017 is projected at $419,315 from 1997-1999, sales tax equal revenues virtually disappear in 2000, as does the motor vehicle excise tax due to the passage of Initiative 695. After a brief spike in 2000,. city assistances drops dramatically after the passage of Initiative 747, as does the liquor excise tax with the passage of Initiative 1183 in 2011. continued from page 1 The 2014- 2015 recycling amount for Cheney was $30,000, and Ableman told the council the 2016-2017 amount was cut by more than half to $13,147. When asked by Councilman John Taves why the city was only receiving half, Able- man said it was due to the allocation to the program in the curre at funding cycle from the Legislature being cut in half as well. "How unusual," Taves replied. The council also ap- proved the city's appli- cation for three differ ent grants. The first was the state Department of Ecology's Drought Re- lief Grant, which the city originally applied to for $500,000 to be used to rehabilitate Well 3, which is no longer producing But in the end, the Police Department's need was pretty straightforward. "Very simply, we need more cops," Hensley said. "We need to get them out in the field." It's something Conley and fellow officers began work- ing on remedying in 2012, doing research and talking with city officials about the need to follow other cities leads and pass some type of funding measure for public safety. "Our original idea was 'hey, let's go to the voters and see what services they want and how much they're willing to fund to have at least an adequate police depart- ment,'" Conley said. As part of his research, Conley produced a list of 11 cities with populations close to Cheney's, estimated at around 11,300. One of those cities, Sedro Woolley at 10,610, raised their utility taxes from 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent in June 2014 in order to add two more officers, bringing their compliment to 16. At 14 total officers, nine who are in the patrol rotation, Cheney is the lowest on the list that includes Ferndale, which with a population of 11,837 has 18 officers, 15 of whom are in the patrol rotation. Snoqualmie, population 11,320, has 17 patrol officers to go with four sergeants, two lieutenants and a chief. Adding to Cheney's demand is Eastern.Washington University, whose students, faculty and staff city officials estimate can increase the city' s daytime population 9 - 10 months out of the year to around 25,000. Eastern, with a 2014-2015 enrollment of 13,452 and just over 2,100 liv- ing on campus, is served by its own police department, which has 11 of 14 officers available for patrol, .EWU Deputy Chief Gary Gasseling said. By contrast, Central Washington University, with a 2014-2015 enrollment of 10,139 and campus housing water due to a likely be- ter Financial Assistance low ground collapse that Grant program to help sealed the water vein. provide preliminary en- Ableman said the gmeering to reduce or timeline from the state eliminate stormwater on the project was too point sources from dis- tight, but another option charging into state bodies to apply for $70,000 in of water. If awarded, the funding to increase the funding would cover 85 "Once we are approved by Ecol- ogy for reuse purposes, the city can apply for available engineering and construction grants." Public Works Director Todd Ableman percent of engineering costs, with the city pick- ing up the rest. The proposed plan is to route existing storm- water point.sources to city property near the wastewater treatment and reclamation plant. Ableman said the city isn't currently under any stormwater permit re- quirements, but will be beginning in 2017. Finally, the council approved an application to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The city must submit an engineer- ing report, which will be combined with a 2007 report on the plant that will focus on the quality, production and manage- ment of reusable water for grass areas, in order to be eligible to receive funding. "Once we are ap- proved by Ecology for reuse purposes, the city can apply for available engineering and con- struction grants," Able- man said in an email. John McCal- lum can be reached at j mac@cheneyfreepress. com. pumping capacity for the city's main wells, Well 1 and 2, was much more feasible. Currently both wells are pumping at 56 percent of capacity. The council also ap- proved the city's applica- tion for $1,937 in funding from the state's Stormwa- for 3,100, also has a police force of 14 with 10 officers available for patrol. Ellensburg, home to CWU, with a population of 18,363, has a police department of 38, including 18 patrol grade officers. For Hensley, Conley and others, Cheney's police needs aren't just about service to its residents, but also about officer safetv. While the Police Guild's new con- tract with the city requires at least two officers on duty, there are still a few times there is only one, and with overtime expenses at $90,246 as of September, over $38,000 above last year's expenses at the same time, it's becoming difficult to staff the needed shifts. "We need to hire six additional officers to be average of other departments," Conley said. Cheney can rely on Eastern officers for back up on calls, but with only one officer on shift, Gasseling said it's often the other way around. Hensley said that if the levy lid lift fails, the service level should remain the same, but any cuts to do so would have to start coming from eliminating positions. And while the small and large calls might grab headlines, Conley said it's responding to the daffy routine, such as domestic violence calls, malicious mischief, thefts and assaults that requires the most attention. Even simple traffic collisions, where one officer is needed to investigate and another to direct traffic, can be a challenge. "We've gotten by, but sometimes we've had citizens get out there and direct traffic," Conley said. John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress. com. Photo by John McCallum Foggy foliage Fall on the West Plains not only means colorful, falling leaves but the arrival of often dense early morning fog. Both are seen above along Cheney's Fred Johns Way, Tuesday morning. TH FEED TttATLARGE Did yon know thai both Lon orn locations can your special party. mat in our banquet roomsT 6Iv n a call and w can put t cthcr the rl t menu for you and your nott$,with the rl t prlccl LHNGttOIAH TO I OE TO We can cater our world famous flxcn's to yonl i+++;; flu party tee ill ur tou small fur our Chuck WnIon'8 to food. Call am catering emce to have Loiporn cater your iclt event. 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