Adding additional officer would incur costs of $130k annually; City will sell surplus residential lot on Tamarack Lane…
The Public Safety Committee of the Chewelah City Council reported that they had considered an additional officer to the city’s police department but decided against it due to cost concerns.
Committee chairman John May explained to the council that his group had studied the idea and concluded that adding one more police officer would cost the city approximately $130,000 annually for wages, benefits and equipment. Purchasing a new police car would cost an additional $60,000.
“I think at this particular time, we’re going to let that sit and fester and we’ll worry about that another day,” May concluded without explaining any issues that prompted the committee’s discussion. Committee meetings are closed to the public.
The police department currently employs a chief, one sergeant, three patrol officers, one secretary and one K9 police dog, Rebel.
May said the committee is also discussing the addition of a more secure vehicle parking area behind the police department office for the safety of officers and department vehicles.
The Public Safety committee is also looking at the possibility of moving the police department’s outdoor firearm practice range from its current location near the city’s water reservoir on Sand Canyon Road.
“There’s a private driveway that goes right through the middle of [the shooting range] and that makes [officers] a bit uncomfortable,” May explained. “The people that use that driveway have been very cooperative, they have gone out of their way to be nice to the police department, they don’t worry about it, they don’t fuss about it, but the [police department] worries about it,” May said. He described how officers have encountered vehicles on the driveway while practicing at the outdoor range.
“We have a couple spots that we’re looking at and we’ll discuss that a little further. Perhaps we will be able to move that to a different location that’s safer,” May said.
The city council divided the reservoir property and sold a 20-acre parcel in early 2017. The new owners share an access road with the city, which uses it to access the water reservoir and the shooting range. The range is located very near the neighbor’s property line.
Water truck approved
At the request of City Administrator Mike Frizzell, the council approved the purchase of a used water truck for $46,000. The council had previously budgeted $40,000 from reserve funds for the purchase.
Frizzell said the used truck from Sacramento, California is a 2002 GMC diesel and will replace the city’s current water truck which is nearly 40-years old and at the end of its useful life. The new truck is fully equipped with a 2500 gallon water tank, pump and spray nozzles. The truck will primarily be used for street cleaning.
1002 Tamarack Lane to be sold
The council has declared surplus and will sell the residential lot at 1002 Tamarack Lane in the Pinebrook neighborhood.
The house at that address had burned in 2013 and the city cleared the property at the request of neighbors after the owner failed to respond. The city subsequently placed a lien on the property and acquired the title to the property through the county’s tax foreclosure auction in December 2018.
After a ten-minute closed-door executive session to discuss the minimum price for the property, the council voted to list the property for sale through a real estate agent.
Councilman May suggested that the council consider banning bicycles, skateboards and roller blades on sidewalks in the downtown area. He was concerned about the safety of pedestrians on the sidewalks and noted that there is an existing ordinance that prohibits skate boards, roller skates, roller blades and scooters on the sidewalks and parking lots around city hall. May suggested that the same rules should apply to the sidewalks on Main Ave. between Park St. and 5th Street East.
After a brief discussion, it was decided that the issue should be part of the public forum tentatively scheduled for April that will address parking, sidewalks, speed limits and other rules in the downtown corridor.
The next regular city council meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Wednesday, March 6, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the city hall council chambers.