City granted more than $1 million to improve Main, Lincoln avenues

As announced at the Dec. 5 regular Chewelah City Council meeting, the city has received funds from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) for $979,553 to go toward the completion of Segment B of E Main Avenue, and $123,957 for sidewalks on East Lincoln Avenue to make it safer for children traveling to and from school.

City Administrator Mike Frizzell said the Lincoln Avenue funding will at least pay for sidewalks from the park to Jenkins High School and the project should be completed in 2013.

The funding for Main Avenue can be used toward improvement costs such as new asphalt, sidewalks, lighting, engineering, and electrical. Frizzell said they budgeted conservatively and may be able to expand the project if money is left over.

Brian Belsby of Belsby Engineering LLC provided help in filling out the applications for TIB funds and also held a public hearing at the Nov. 21 meeting for Community Development Block Grants, which are separate competitive grants available to the city.

Frizzell said the Grant street bridge project to repair the wing walls was delayed due to weather. The roads remained closed because heavy rains made it unsafe for heavy traffic. The project should be completed within 7-10 days once it is cold enough to work.

The city municipal sidewalk project is also underway at city hall. The project is completely paid by grant funding for sidewalks and Frizzell said it was very specific to the type of project.

Frizzell said the museum remodel has been completed using funds from the Stevens County Historical Society in exchange for archiving items. Lynn Husby of Chewelah Floor and Wall also donated carpet and installation to the project as the city could not afford that piece.

The Chewelah City Council adopted the budget for fiscal year 2013 at the Dec. 5 regular meeting following a public hearing that brought no public comment or council discussion.

The council voted 6-1 to pass Ordinance No. 848 adopting the budget; Councilman Dave Haskell opposed it. The final estimated general fund budget has been set at $1,310,736 and the total for all funds is estimated at $4,594,381.

Although nothing significant had changed since its introduction on Nov. 7, notable budget decisions for 2013 included the elimination of three permanent positions and a contract position, removing funding for community pool and library services, and increasing utility taxes to make up for a $250,000 loss in the general fund that resulted from state audit findings.

The council also unanimously approved to continue their agreement with Family Support Center at Rural Resources in Colville to pay $4,500 annually for services to help victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

Linda Daniels-Norris of the Family Support Center said they help many Chewelah men, women, and children and the money goes a long way to provide necessary services for the community as the support center only operates on donations. The center helps respond to requests for information or assistance, provides immediate crisis intervention for victims, assists with locating temporary safe housing, food and clothing for victims and children, and provide medical advocacy, counseling, legal advocacy, and on-going support.

Additionally, the city council approved the 2013 contract with McGrane and Shuerman Law Firm for $15,600.

The city council has approved the ordinance (No. 849) to accept the deed for conveyance and dedication of all golf course roads and easements at Chewelah Golf and Country Club so that the city can now maintain those roads as they are within the annexed city limits, also known as “Chewelah North.”

Ordinance No. 849 also includes specific requirements for potential conditional dual use of Richmond Lane as an aircraft taxiway as well as for automobile traffic since the city repealed a resolution from June 1989 at the Nov. 21, 2012 meeting to cease the use of Richmond Lane as a taxiway. The city’s liability insurance provider (Washington City’s Insurance Authority) would not cover it otherwise and it was also outside the council’s scope of authority to make that decision. Homeowners can create a Richmond Lane Homeowner’s Association to purchase their own insurance. Until then, airplanes may be towed but not operated on Richmond Lane.

Chewelah resident Steve Crisp explained his hesitations with the ordinance to accept the deed for conveyance of the roads as he said many are not up to city code and would have to be upgraded. He also said that help push resolution from June 1989 intending to make Richmond Lane a taxiway and he had requested it as a condition of him purchasing a home and moving to Chewelah. He said taking the taxiway away has taken the value from his home.

“It’s the only reason I’m here to begin with,” Crisp said.

Councilman John May said that is not a concern for the current council since the city did not sell him that lot.

The city council also unanimously approved the ordinance to declare the intent of the city to join and be annexed into the Stevens County Rural Library District. If approved by the district library board of trustees and Stevens County Commissioners, the option can be put on the April special election ballot for city residents to decide whether or not they want the district to provide their library services. This would add another layer of taxation for city residents, but would not go into affect until January 2014 if passed.

The Chewelah Public Library Board of Trustees also gave their support for annexation into the district in a letter to the council.

However, the approval of the amended and restated Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with the Stevens County Rural Library District was postponed since the finished copy was just received prior to the council meeting. The amended agreement describes how the district can provide services to Chewelah in 2013 while the decision is awaiting the election and taxing district change.

The new agreement includes conditions for how the city promises use of the library building for free for three years in exchange for the library services. However, if the annexation fails the election, the district will not continue those services. The city has budgeted to fund library at approximately $5,833 for the cost of building insurance and utilities in 2013.

Councilwoman Sharon Ludwig mentioned that the finance committee looked into implementing a $20 per vehicle charge to benefit the street fund, but that would not be considered for this year’s budget. She said it is one solution for the future in being able to bring in more revenue for maintaining streets since that is the only way the money could be used.

The council elected Councilwoman Carra Nupp to be the 2013 council representative on the Local Firefighter Board of Trustees.

By Kellie Trudeau

The Independent Staff