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December 3, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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December 3, 2015
 

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NEWS CHENEY FREE PRESS I Thursday, December 3, 2015 I continued from page 1 hold out for potential levy lid leftovers once police and fire needs are met, to fill their own wish list. Municipal court Court administrator Terri Cooper refers to the Cheney Municipal Court as the "third ann of public safety." Accomplishments for that arm in 2015 included secur- ing another public defense grant, although the $16,200 was an $1,800 decrease from 2014, renewing the annual $48,000 contract with Medical Lake for providin, g court services, adding a courtroom security officer and pro- viding domestic violence victim advocacy services at no cost through Abuse Recovery Ministry Services, ARMS. The court also processed 103 records requests, held 1,024 hearings and provided probation monitoring for 228 defendants per month. The court has seen a steady dedine in total filings, which totaled 6,012 in 2011 but are estimated to only reach 4,303 this year. Infractions and parking ticket filings are also down, the latter of which indudes Eastern Washington University tickets, while criminal case and driving under the influence filings are anticipated to be up in 2015. The decreases have led to a reduction in outside rev- enue for the court from fines, penalties as well as revenue from discretionary costs such as public defense fees, jail and warrants charges along with probation reimbursements. Goals for the court as part of its $326,900 budget in 2016 include instituting new probation programs for marijuana and sexual assault, further public defense grant funding and technology improvements.Cooper also submitted a list of $23,000 in unfunded discretionary requests for needs that have been overlooked the past several years, and a $4,000 request to help ARMS with its costs. Fire Department Call volumes have increased 13 percent over 2014, and Fire Chief Mike Winters said he expected the city to set a new record by the end of Thanksgiving week. Emergency medical service life-threatening calls are up 8 percent, drug and alcohol overdose calls increased this fall and the department set records for overall calls in January, May, June and C ober. "We've been hopping," Winters said. The department has a list of 10 goals for 2016, which include revamp'mgthe volunteer firefighter program, work- ing to better response times and replacing outdated and unserviceable equipment. The latter is now doser to being achieved with the passage of the levy lid lift, and Winters listed replacing the department' s 34-year-old, 2.5-inch hose, self-contained breahhing apparatus cylinders that can no longer be certified, along with beginning plans to purchase or lease a new number one attack engine as priorities. Winters also said technology improvements were needed to lift the department out of the 1980s and into the 21st century. Among those are purchasing mobile data terminals for the vehicles, which all departments currently use to access information about structures as crews speed to a fire. Cheney currently uses three-ring binders. "It's really hard trying to drive with lights and siren while you're holding up a book," Winters said. Police Department While the overall crime rate in Cheney is down 9 per- cent over last year's numbers, calls for service to the police department are up by the same percentage, reflecting an average of 2,700 calls per month. Currently, the depart- ment averages 3 minutes, 29 seconds in response time for emergencies, an increase of 15 seconds, something Police Chief John Hensley said is "troublesome." "Fifteen seconds when you need help is a long time," he added. Hensley would like to see that drop below three minutes, and it's hoped the addition of two more officers, thanks to the levy lid lift, will help achieve that. Accomplishments in 2015 included upgrading the de- continued from page 1 property should be re- zoned R-l, single family, instead. Among those reasons was an allega- tion the combined size of the two parcels was less than one acre, as claimed in the applica- tion, and therefore not up to city code for mul- tifamily use. Stradling also listed potential negatix;e im- pacts to nearby prop- erty values as well as "public health, safety, .welfare and protection" of nearby residents and safety concerns for chil- dren from increased traffic from an apart- ment complex. She also questioned whether is- sues about increased lighting and noise had been fully explored. Braaten told the commission the size of the two parcels was really not conducive for a large, multifamfly apartment complex, but advised them to make its decision based on what the land would be best suited for, not the use the property owner had in mind. "That's what you want to review against when you make your decision," he added. Pederson told the commission Stradling contacted him seeking guidance about writing her letter without know- ing he was a commission member. After advising her of his position, Ped- erson said he kept the conversation away from specifics and advise~ her to {alk to the plan- ning staff, adding his conversation would not affect his decision. Pederson said he felt the change to R-3 was not transitional but more of a "spot zoning" move, again pointing to the nature of the sur- rounding land use. He proposed making the change to R-2 as being more consistent with the neighborhood. The planning staff had noted in its report that it didn't consider the R-3 rezone to be spot zoning due to the surrounding properties current desig- nation, rather than their use. Thereport also noted under a R-2 designation, the combined site might still be able to accom- modate up to six, 6,000- square-foot parcels ca- pable of providing space for six duplex structures for 12 total units. "R-3 is his (Lee's) golden standard, and R-1 is the surrounding owner's golden stan- dard," Braaten said. "Maybe R-2 is the com- promise." Pederson also ex- pressed a belief, which ~y said was ngt backed statistics, that the city was well stocked with multifamily hous- ing. Commissioner Son- ny Weathers added he didn't feel the site was large enough to provide an effective multifamily building. "If you were going to get into the apart- ment business in Air- way Heights, wouldn't it be better if it (parcel size) was bigger rather than on a one-acre lot?" Weathers asked. Commission vice- chair Kal Patel also agreed with Pederson and Weathers that R-2 likely provided the best opportunity for devel- opment of the parcels while creating the least impact to the surround- ing neighborhood. John M.cCal- lum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress. com. 10 Screens? 509-232-044d Movie Information ~, ?,r~, VlXAR THE GOOD PG FTI3D Daily 9:20 In 2D (3:00) (5:10) 7:15 Sat-Sun (10:45) (12:60) PG-13 Daily (2:50) (5:00) 7:10 9:20 Sat.Sun (10:30) (12:40) partment's TASER technology and achieving a 100-percent compliance in its jail and ACCESS audits - the only de- partment in the state to do so. The department also helped breakup a ring responsible for 37burglaries in Cheney and Spokane, renewed an information system storage contract with Airway Heights and entered into new ones with the Kalispell Tribe and EWU police departments. Besides new fulltime officers, the department in 2016 wants to hire two reserve officers, begin the certification process in defensive tactics instruction and, like the fire department, replace old, worn out or nearly obsolete equipment, beginning with patrol vehicles. "The issue with the cars is getting pressing," Hens- ley said, adding he has been very satisfied with city's leasing approach. "It keeps the cost way down and at the end of the day we own the car anyway," he said. Budget figures for the police and fire departments were not presented at the Nov. 26 council meeting and not available at press time. John McCallum can be reached at jrnac@cheneyfreepress. com. Locally owned & operated Tank pumping & maintenance Baffle inspection System inspection for home sale Drain cleaning Drain field installation your special party. 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