(By Jared Arnold/The Independent Staff)
At its Sept. 7 regular meeting, the Chewelah City Council voted to increase the fee for late utility payments, set rates for cremains opening and closings at the city’s cemeteries, established a utility fee for the city park rental, discussed the possibility of increasing the speed limit from 25 to 35 mph on Flowery Trail Road between Ehorn Ln. and Cottonwood Rd., and agreed to use City of Spokane Hearing Examiner services. Councilwoman Roberta McMillin was absent from the meeting.
The city will begin using the services of a City of Spokane Hearing Examiner for hearings on administrative appeals and land use matters in Chewelah, according to the interlocal agreement approved by the council last week. Chewelah will pay Spokane for their services at a rate of $125 per hour plus travel expenses. The Hearing Examiner system was approved by the council last month and replaces the volunteer citizen Planning Commission that was abolished by the council last August.
After a bit of discussion and a couple failed motions, the council adopted new rates for opening and closing cremain burial sites at the Pioneer Cemetery and Chewelah Memorial Park Cemetery. As originally proposed, the rate for Monday through Friday would have been $250 and Saturdays or holidays would have been $500. At the center of the debate was the $500 rate for Saturdays and holidays, which councilman John May described as “ludicrous.” City Administrator Mike Frizzell explained that the higher rate was necessary to cover the added overtime expense for city crews.
Finally, the council unanimously agreed to set the rates at $250 for Monday through Friday and $350 for Saturdays and holidays.
The council also unanimously approved Ordinance #902 which will increase the fee from $5 to $25 for the late payment of utility bills.
The late fee will be imposed if the utility payment has not been received by the end of the fifteenth day of the month.
Resolution 16-11 added a new $5 utility fee to all event reservations at the city park, if water or electric services are needed for the event. The resolution was passed unanimously.
Councilwoman Carra Nupp presented to the council a limited edition, framed commemorative print of the famous photograph showing New York firefighters raising the U.S. Flag atop the rubble of the World Trade Center Towers following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The framed work also includes two commemorative U.S. postage stamps issued in 2002, Heroes of 2001, that are based on the same photo. The piece was donated by Capt. Mike Bacon, a 35-year veteran of the Spokane Fire Department, who helped raise over $110,000 for the FDNY Women and Children’s Fund to support the families of the 343 firefighters killed as a result of the attack. He was one of the 50,000 firefighters from around the world who attended the FDNY Firefighters Memorial Service on October 12, 2002. Nupp said that Bacon heard about the World Trade Center artifact the city acquired earlier this year and wanted to donate the framed picture to be included in the display. Mayor Dorothy Knauss said the final display is still being designed.
The council also had a discussion about the possibility of raising the speed limit from 25 to 35 mph on the section of Flowery Trail Road between Ehorn Lane and Cottonwood Road. The discussion was prompted by a letter from Chewelah resident Joe Newbury which detailed other roads around Chewelah that have 35 mph speed limits, including Old Highway, Alm Lane, Cozy Nook, and Sand Canyon.
The last time the council changed the speed limit to 35 mph on this section of road was on July 5, 2012. However, the decision was reversed two weeks later after several citizen complaints and a letter submitted by residents in the area opposed the higher speed limit.
The council took no action on the matter last week but referred the issue to the council’s Public Safety Committee for review and recommendation. The committee consists of John May, Roberta McMillin, and Dee Henderson. Councilwoman Carra Nupp urged the council to allow time for the public to comment on the proposal.
The next meeting of the council will be Wednesday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m. where they will hold a special “listening session” for citizens to voice their ideas, suggestions, and concerns.