Spokane Valley City Council Highlights

Your Connection to the Spokane Valley City Council

February 20,  2024

 

 

After last week’s Planning Retreat, Spokane Valley City Council returned to its regular Study Session format starting with a presentation on Spokane Valley’s joining other regional partners such as Greater Spokane, Inc. in submitting testimony to US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the US House Energy and Commerce Committee in support of maintaining the Columbia River System including the Lower Snake River Dams. The presenters were Chelsea Martin, Government Relations and Communications Coordinator at Modern Electric and Dan Wilson, Legislative Affairs for Local 338 of the United Steelworkers at Kaiser Aluminum.

For some time, there has been a movement to breach the four lower dams on the Snake River. Although a US Government final Record of Decision (Oct.8. 2020) concluded that such a breach is not an option, the Biden Administration has been secretly meeting with tribes to circumvent that decision. The letter to Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers is to ensure the City’s firm stand against breaching is communicated.

The first business item on Council’s regular agenda was action on Ordinance 24-001, a City-initiated code change, revising City Code to provide flexibility in the number of required Planning Commission meetings. Currently, City Code requires the Commission to hold at least one regular meeting each month, for not less than nine months each year. Further, it would ensure that there are not two consecutive months without a meeting. The change also includes a provision that the first Planning Commission meeting in election years be canceled to enable new commission members to be appointed. The Planning Commission in 2023, after a public hearing, recommended Council adopt Ordinance 24-001. The motion to approve Ordinance 24-001 passed unanimously.

When City Hall remediation work was being done, it was necessary to notice that Planning Commission meetings were then held regularly, by rule, at Center Place. Now that City Hall is once again usable, it is necessary to adopt a resolution moving the regular Commission meetings back to City Hall. Resolution 24-003 does that. The motion to adopt resolution 24-003 passed unanimously.

In February 2021, the City purchased from Washington State Department of Transportation 45.63 acres of land off Flora Road for $2,091,600.00. Concurrently, the City applied for (and received) a $1,000,000 grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to apply toward that purchase. In the final purchase documents, the City excluded 2.7 acres to allow the City more flexibility in recreational uses on the site. Subsequently, the opportunity to develop a cross-country track facility on the Flora Property became a reality.

A master plan for development of the complex includes plans for the cross-country course, a permanent club house including offices, restrooms for drug testing, and possible concessions. As a final condition for the grant, the City is obligated to convey to …”the people of the State of Washington….” the right to use the property for public purposes. That action was completed in 2020. Plans for completion of the cross-country course in time for use in 2025 are under way.

The City’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) that was approved in June 2023, calls for these projects to be undertaken in 2024.

  1. North Pines Road/BNSF Rail Crossing. Project details and coordination should be completed to allow construction to begin in late summer.
  2. South Bowdish Road Improvements. Sidewalk installation between E. 12th and E. 22nd. Roundabout at E. 16th. Grind and overlay.
  3. East 16th Avenue Preservation. Grind and inlay, ITS conduit, curb ramp revisions between S. Evergreen and S. Adams.
  4. Trent Avenue Access Control Safety Improvements. Construct concrete islands to protect turning movements.
  5. Reflective Traffic Light Backplates. Install 16 signalized intersection backplates.
  6. Balfour Park Improvements-Phase I. Complete main park infrastructure, parking lot, events plaza and veteran’s memorial, and multipurpose park building.
  7. North Pines Road and East Mission Avenue Intersection Improvement. Add left turn lanes for eastbound Mission Ave., right turn lane for southbound Pines Road, and reconfigures signal operations.
  8. Local access Pavement Preservation and Cape Seal Projects. As determined.
  9. East Sprague Avenue Stormwater Project. Reduces E. Sprague Ave. to three lanes from N. Herald to N. University. Creates new storm water system, swales, crosswalk signal at Balfour Park, and landscaping.
  10. East Indiana Avenue Preservation-Phase 1. Replaces asphalt pavement with concrete.
  11. Sullivan Park Waterline. Construct a waterline from Sullivan Park north of Union Pacific tracks.

Daniel Bruzas, representing James Boone, LLC. is requesting vacation of the south 60’ X 80’ of Girard Road, and the south 60’ X 95’ of Lily Road lying north of I-90 and south of Boone Avenue. The total requested area is 10,502 square feet. The Public Works Department had no major concerns with the application and the fire department had only minor comments. Council reached consensus to set the public hearing for the street


Spokane Valley City Council meetings are held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 

February 13,  2024

 

 

In a departure from the normal schedule of Spokane Valley City Council weekly meetings, this meeting was in the form of a planning retreat. It commenced at 9:45am and ran through 3:45pm, starting with a discussion of Council’s vision for the City.

After opening remarks by Mayor Haley, the discussion, led by Marketing Solutions, a meeting facilitator, delved into SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for guiding the direction of the meeting. SWOT analysis is an outline for strategic planning, where consideration of internal strengths and weaknesses as well as perceived operational advantages and contemplating internal and external threats are explored.

In the ensuing discussion employing the SWOT format, the following topics were considered and summarized as Council and Staff agreed they applied.

Strengths: Fiscally responsible and financially solvent; uncomplicated permitting process; small, talented staff; comfortable place to live; attentive to citizen needs.

Weaknesses: Limited revenue base; understaffed police force; underfunded infrastructure maintenance; limited ability to communicate with citizens.

Opportunities: Great location; transitioning economy; available land for annexation; transportation hub; favorable business environment; expandable urban growth area.

Threats: Legislative preemption of local control; Growth Management Act restrictions on ability to grow; national economic downturn; lack of affordable housing; growing homelessness problem; drug and mental health problems; lack of detention facilities; technology concerns: cyber attacks, artificial intelligence. 

The discussion then turned to the six Council Budget Goals and Fiscal Policies that rank highest in importance for our citizens. 

1. Public Safety: 
• Public safety is the City’s highest priority which begins with providing superior police services to protect lives, property, and maintaining a safe and welcoming community. The City shall also strive to ensure that the Police Precinct is improved and maintained to meet the needs of our police department.
• In addition to providing robust police services, the City will prioritize all stages of the criminal justice process to provide for the safety of our residents including booking, prosecution services, court services, detention services, and post-detention services.

2. Economic Development:
• Actively support our existing businesses and industries by identifying retention and expansion opportunities to facilitate employment growth and a stable tax base. Collaborate with local, state, and national partners to identify resources to support the City’s economic development initiatives.
• Grow local tourism through asset development and targeted destination marketing to support hotels and retail establishments.

3. Pavement Preservation:
• Maintain and sustain a safe and resilient transportation infrastructure using cost effective means and methods that consider the long-term needs of the network. The City shall strive to provide sufficient funding to ensure the preservation of our infrastructure.

4. Transportation and Infrastructure:
• Strengthen and improve transportation infrastructure to safely connect the community by incorporating new and innovative technologies to improve the quality of life for all users while supporting a diverse and robust economy. 

5. Homeless and Housing:
• Develop a housing and homeless program that integrates the activities of service providers to retain residents in housing, provide a path forward for those experiencing homelessness, and support the creation of additional affordable workforce housing units within the City.

6. Communications:
• Increase community interactions, share information, and obtain feedback and provide awareness on all the aspects that make Spokane Valley a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

As a wrap-up, Council discussed Public Safety Priorities which were focused primarily on increasing the law enforcement staffing and accommodations. Also in the discussion were courts, incarceration, pre- and post-incarceration, and the ability to process detainees more efficiently. All of these subjects will be topics on the next retreat.

City Hall will be closed Monday, February 19th in observance of President’s Day.

Spokane Valley City Council meetings are held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 

February 6,  2024

 

 

This regularly scheduled study session of the Spokane Valley City Council commenced with action on Ordinance 24-001 which is a City-initiated code change revising City Code to provide flexibility in the number of required Planning Commission meetings. Currently, City Code requires the Commission to hold at least one regular meeting each month, for not less than nine months each year. Further, it would ensure that there are not two consecutive months without a meeting. The change also includes a provision that the first Planning Commission meeting in election years be canceled to enable new commission members to be appointed. The Planning Commission in 2023, after a public hearing, recommended Council adopt Ordinance 24-001. The motion to advance Ordinance 24-001 to a reading passed unanimously.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a call for projects in December 2023 for its Bridge Investment Program (BIP). The program is designed for bridge rehabilitation, preservation, and protection projects. Funding is on a competitive basis with emphasis on safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of people and freight over these bridges. Scoring also includes project readiness and cost effectiveness.

City Staff recommend submitting the Sullivan & Trent Interchange Project to this call for projects. The request will be for $33,587,992. To date the city has secured roughly $6.6 million for the project and has set aside $1 million of its own funds. Applications are due by March 19, 2024. The motion to authorize the City Manager to apply for the BIP grant in the amount of $33,587,992 passed unanimously.

Members of the Spokane Valley Planning Commission are appointed by the Mayor with the approval of Council. At last week’s meeting, the Mayor appointed three new members but learned at the time of the meeting of the resignation of Mr. Val Dimitrov. Mayor Haley appointed Matthew Hurd for the remainder of Mr. Dimitrov’s term (2 years). The motion for Council to approve Mr. Hurd’s appointment did not receive a second and died. The vacant position will shortly be open for applications; check the City web page for details: www.spokanevalleywa.gov.

Spokane Valley Police Chief, Dave Ellis, presented the department’s recruiting and retention plan for 2024-2027. The report opened with a summary of these national trends from the Police Executive Research Forum:

• In 2023, police staffing nationally has dropped 4.8% since 2020.

• A 47% increase in resignations in 2022 over 2019.

• A 19% increase in retirements in 2022 over 2019.

Locally, the Sheriff’s Office, with whom the City contracts for its law enforcement has averaged losing 25 deputies per year due to retirements, resignations, terminations, change in carers, and other reasons. This does not factor in new hires who failed to complete the year-long probationary period. Currently the Sheriff’s Office is offering a $25,000 signing bonus for lateral transfers and a $10,000 signing bonus for new recruits.

An aggressive recruiting strategy includes more funding for recruiting events, and a change in County policy to allow bonuses for interagency transfers. That is not currently the County policy, but the City of Spokane does allow payment of the bonus. Also included in the strategy is consideration on how to make hiring easier, faster, and more efficient by making applications easier, move to virtual interviews, change the entry level physical agility test, and allowing fingerprinting to be conducted at a venue close to the applicant’s residence.

In employee retention, compensation packages are reviewed to ensure that Spokane County remains competitive. The recent collective bargaining agreement is making a difference. Retention also includes a tuition reimbursement program, wellness program, and is state legislation permits, a program enabling retired officers to re-enter the force for up to 1040 hours annually. The expectations (goals) for hiring are:

Year               Applications          Actual Hires

2024....................1300..........................65

2025....................1500..........................75

2026................... 1800..........................90

2027....................1950.........................100

The City is currently engaged in consideration of police force increases and funding to accomplish those increases. Manpower and facilities are foremost among those considerations.

As the commencement of construction on the Pines/BNSF Rail Crossing approaches this year, all of the elements necessary to actually begin construction are coming into place. Foremost among those considerations is finalization of acquisition and consolidation of all the necessary rights-of-way. Staff has coordinated with and is negotiating an agreement which will include construction of the BNSF’s parallel bridges, property rights, and a permanent easement for the project.

All properties with the exception of one have been acquired, including three donated by Avista. However, one owner continues to refuse to reach agreement and condemnation proceedings have been filed.

The necessary funding is secured and what remains is the coordination of participating agencies to bring the plan into working fruition. As all pieces come together, the schedule to begin construction is slated for mid-year 2024.

Spokane County is currently accepting requests for proposals for the use of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) entitlement funds for program year 2024. In 2023, the City entered into a cooperation agreement to increase the City’s set-aside for available funds based on its share of the agreement’s consortium population. The presentation tonight is to identify projects that the City could apply for to support providers serving Spokane Valley. Specific action will be taken at a future Council meeting.

Next week, on February 13th, Council will be holding its Strategic Planning Workshop starting at 9:45am. The meeting will be in Council Chambers, is open to the public, and is expected to last to 2:45pm. There will not be a Council meeting at the 6:00pm hour.

Spokane Valley City Council meetings are once again held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14.

January 30,  2024

 
 

The single action item on the Spokane Valley City Council agenda was the appointment of new members to the Spokane Valley City Planning Commission. City code directs that “…members of the Planning Commission shall be nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by a majority vote of at least four members of the City Council.” Commission members serve without compensation for three-year terms. Earlier this year, a commission member resigned leaving an unexpired term of approximately one year.

The motion to confirm the appointments of John Robertson and Justin Weathermon to three-year terms beginning January 1, 2024 and ending December 31, 2027, and Vadim Smelik to a one-year term beginning January 1, 2024, and ending December 31, 2024, passed 5-2 (Merkel, Wick-no).
Spokane Valley contracts with Spokane County for its Public Safety. That broad category includes its police, prosecutor, judges, and public defenders, among other services. This evening, Larry Haskell, Spokane County Prosecutor, presented a summary and analysis of what the $400,000 the City pays to the County for prosecutorial services in the public safety contract actually buys.
 
Spokane Valley is a ‘Contract City.’ The City contracts out many of the services requiring specialized departments and/or large staffs such as its police force which it contracts with the Spokane County Sheriff. In its latest agreement (2023) with the Sheriff’s Office, the City has 91 dedicated officers together with 37 commissioned officers shared with the County. There are other positions included in supervision that may cause that number to fluctuate. 

There are six patrol districts in the City, and the police are required to provide a minimum of one patrol officer per district on duty at all times. That number has, in current circumstances, been difficult, and at times impossible, to achieve. A recent study completed by a consultant hired by the City has recommended that 25 dedicated commissioned officers be added to the City police force, plus three shared commissioned officers and two civilian administrative positions.

Police Chief Dave Ellis recommends that the additional officers be added in increments of 8-12 positions starting in 2024 and moving through 2026. The total estimated cost to reach full staffing is $6.2 million. That figure does not include expenses that will be incurred in improving facilities to accommodate the increased staff. 

The City has budgeted $35,250,000 for public safety in 2024. Law Enforcement is designated for $29,627,000 of that amount. In 2023 the deputies’ union reached agreement on a new contract to steadily ‘catch up’ on past wages and increases over the next few years to bring wages on par with surrounding jurisdictions. That change signals a rising cost, not currently addressed with any dedicated funding source from the City. While recognition is given to the critical need for additional law enforcement personnel and facilities, a new source of funding must be found in order to make any substantive changes possible.

Discussion on suggested funding measures included a property tax levy lid lift which had no support from Council. A utility tax also found no interest among Council members. What did garner interest was an increase of 0.1% in the sales tax. Such a tax would result in an estimated $2.8 million based on 2023 sales tax collections. A sales tax increase would also gather funds from non-Valley citizens who shop here. 

Other outside factors such as rising homelessness and drug-related crimes add to a pressing need for additional officers. A national ‘defund the police’ movement has caused the attraction to law enforcement as a career to decline. That movement has served to not only make a career in law enforcement less desirable but has also increased the danger to individuals in the profession. 

This issue is vitally important and will be the focus of the City’s newly created Public Safety Committee. That committee will be reviewing the available information and issues related to developing a strategy to guide Council for moving forward. One aspect of the committee’s work will be establishing ‘listening sessions’ in the community to gather citizen input. The problem requires a multifaceted solution involving all affected parties and individuals. Anyone wishing to participate should be watching the City website, www.spokanevalleywas.gov, for more information.

Spokane Valley City Council meetings are once again held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14.
 

January 23,  2024

 
 
AAfter taking last week off to journey to Olympia to commune with the fourth district legislators, Council reconvened in regular session on Tuesday among the continuing restoration of council chambers. 

In another application situation, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) issued a Call for Projects to help mitigate fatal and severe injury crashes through the City Safety Program (CSP). The Federal Highway Administration administers the program to the states under its Highway Safety Improvement Program. In some instances, there is no match requirement. Applicants are required to provide a Local Road Safety Plan that addresses fatal or significant injury crashes and systemic safety needs. Spokane Valley’s most prominent crash types are Angle (T) and Hit  Pedestrians, most typically occurring on arterial streets or state highways. 

The projects under consideration are: 

The motion to apply for the grant in the order of priority above passed unanimously.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a call for projects in November 2023 for the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) discretionary grant program. The City has previously applied for grants in this program under different acronyms (BUILD and TIGER). The Barker/BNSF project grant was awarded under TIGER.

The application due date is February 28th, 2024. The application award date is June 27th, 2024. If awarded, funds must be obligated by September 30, 2028. Staff recommend submitting the Sullivan & Trent Interchange Project for consideration. To date, the City has secured $6.6 million of grant funds and has set aside an additional one million dollars of local funds. That funding covers the engineering and right-of-way phases leaving the construction phase of the project still to be funded. The City’s grant request to the RAISE program will be $25 million as partial funding for the total estimated project cost of $42,340,000. The motion to apply for $25 million under the RAISE Program for the Sullivan and Trent Interchange Project passed 5-1 (Merkel-no).
After the items requiring action were addressed, Council heard Dr. Grant Forsyth, chief economist for Avista Corporation, present his thoughts on the economic future of the country and how that might play into City finances. Generally speaking, he was optimistic about the economy but still had reservations about inflation continuing to affect various segments including energy.

The USDOT (US Department of Transportation) issued a call for projects in December of last year for the Bridge Investment Program (BIP) discretionary grant program. Bridge rehabilitation, preservation and protection projects will be funded on a competitive basis under the following criteria: Improve safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement and freight over bridges. Projects are scored based on their merits with respect for environmental sustainability, equity, and proportional impacts that improve quality of life, workforce development and economic development.
Staff recommend submitting the Sullivan & Trent Interchange Project to this call for projects. Application requests can only seek funds for “future eligible expenses” and awards cannot be used to reimburse applicants for funds/phases already obligated. Consensus was reached to develop the Sullivan/Trent Interchange project application for the BIP program. 

On February 7th, 2023, Council supported a recommendation to update the City’s logo. After pauses created by personnel turnover, the issue is back. The new suggested logo is “…..more sophisticated modern, cleaner, and crisper.” Consensus was reached to share the logo on social media and return at a future council meeting with any community feedback and a resolution to adopt the new logo.

Spokane Valley City Council meetings are once again held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 
 

January 9,  2024

 
 

Each year the Mayor appoints members to the various committees which serve the City, or where the City holds board positions, and/or where the City is, by its community standing, represented. One such committee is the Tourism Promotion Area Committee (TPA).
 
In 2022, City staff and hoteliers reached agreement on petitioning Council to create a TPA. City Resolution 22-017 formally accepted that petition followed by adoption of Ordinance 22-016, establishing a City-wide Tourism Promotion Area. The ordinance provides the implementation procedures and policies for the new TPA. 
 
The first Spokane Valley City Council meeting for 2023 opened with Council’s confirming Mayor Pam Haley’s appointments of Sara Fesler, Amanda Alcamo, Grant Guinn, Bernadette Crain, and Lee Cameron to the City’s then newly created Tourism Promotion Area Board. The appointment of the TPA Board completed the TPA establishment process. 
 
Late last year, a TPA Commissioner resigned creating a vacancy for calendar year 2024. Mayor Haley appointed Jessica Glasson from Holiday Inn Express to fill the vacancy. The motion to approve that appointment passed unanimously.
 
Annually, the Mayor also makes appointment recommendations to place Councilmembers on the various regional and in-house boards and committees. The following are the Mayor’s recommendations for each Councilmember’s committee assignments.
 
1. Aging & Long-Term Care of eastern Washington-Jessica Yaeger; Rod Higgins Alt.
2. Chamber of Commerce Board-Laura Padden
3. Spokane Area Clean Air Agency-Rod Higgins; Tim Hattenburg Alt.
4. Continuum of Care for the Homeless, Spokane County-Gloria Mantz; Eric Robison Alt
5. Finance Committee, City-Laura Padden, Rod Higgins, Ben Wick
6. Growth Mgmt Steering Committee (County)-Rod Higgins, Tim Hattenburg
7. Governance Manual Committee (City)-Pam Haley, Rod Higgins, Jessica Yaeger
8. Greater Spokane Inc. Board of Directors-Pam Haley
9. Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee-Tim Hattenburg, Ben Wick
10. Human Rights Task Force-Ben Wick, Al Merkel Alt.
11. Lodging Tax Advisory Committee-Rod Higgins
12. Mayors Association of Northeast Washington-Pam Haley
13. Opioid Abatement Council (new)-Al Merkel
14. Public Safety Committee (new)-Tim Hattenburg, Laura Padden, Ben Wick
15. Spokane Regional Transportation Council-Pam Haley, Rod Higgins, Tim Hattenburg Alt.
16. Strategic Planning Committee (new)-Pam Haley, Tim Hattenburg, Rod Higgins
17. Spokane Transit Authority-Pam Haley, Tim Hattenburg
18. Wastewater Policy Advisory Board-Rod Higgins, Jessica Yaeger
The motion to approve the Mayoral assignments passed unanimously.
 
At its January 2nd meeting, Council requested a review of the City Logo Policy and Governance Manual related social media guidelines. In a discussion of those guidelines and policies, Kelly Konkright, the City Attorney, explained in detail the rules for Councilmembers’ use of the City logo and using or implying City sponsorship of the Councilmember’s use of social media sites. This presentation was necessitated by the improper use of social media involving the City by a Council member.
 
Ordinance 24-001 is a city-initiated code text amendment revising City Code to provide flexibility in the number of required Planning Commission meetings. Currently, City Code requires the Commission to hold at least one regular meeting each month, in not less than nine months each year. Further, it would ensure that there are not two consecutive months without a meeting. The Planning Commission, after a public hearing, recommended Council adopt Ordinance 24-001.
 
In 2013, Council approved a franchise with Zayo Group, LLC for installation and maintenance of fiber optics telecommunications facilities within the City. The ten-year franchise has expired, and the Zayo Group has requested a ten-year renewal substantially along the same lines. With a few minor changes, and the Zayo Group concurrence, Council reached consensus to bring the renewal forward for a first reading.
 
The annual training required for Council members on the Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Request Training was conducted by City Attorney Konkright.
 
Several Council members will be traveling to Olympia to meet with legislators next week, thus, there will not be a Council meeting next Tuesday, January 16th.
 
Spokane Valley City Council meetings are once again held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, on Tuesdays, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 

January 2,  2024

 
 

After the swearing in ceremony for re-elected Tim Hattenberg and newly elected Council Members Jessica Yaeger and Al Merkel in the renovated Council Chambers, the inaugural Council meeting of 2024 was opened by City Clerk, Marci Patterson, for the purpose of electing the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the ensuing two years. Pam Haley was once again elected Mayor and Tim Hattenberg was elected as her deputy. In Spokane Valley’s Council-Manager form of government, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are elected by the City Council from within the sitting Council members. Mr. Hattenberg was just re-elected to a four-year term on City Council. 
 
Having completed the immediate business of the evening, Council took up a Staff recommendation to participate in applying for a state grant for inventorying City-owned trees located in developed parks and roadway landscaping areas. Records indicate that there are 2,200 such trees varying in size and condition. The grant funds would pay for tree maintenance work and tree planting over a three-year period. The resulting inventory would help position the City to meet the proposed requirements under the upcoming 2024-29 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coming in July 2024.
 
Staff recommends submitting a request for $225,000. The short time span for applications (January 8th) necessitates hiring a consultant to assist with the application. The motion to authorize the application for the Community Forestry Assistance Grant for $225,000 passed 6-1

In another application situation, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) issued a Call for Projects to help mitigate fatal and serious injury crashes through the City Safety Program (CSP). The Federal Highway Administration administers the program to the states under its Highway Safety Improvement Program. There is no match requirement. Applicants are required to provide a Local Road Safety Plan that addresses fatal or serious injury crashes and systemic safety needs. Spokane Valley’s most prominent crash types are Angle (T) and Hit  Pedestrian crashes, most typically occurring on arterial streets or state highways. Staff were seeking consensus on applying for such a grant.
 
The projects under consideration include the following proposals to mitigate angle (T) and Hit Pedestrian crashes:

ANGLE (T) Crashes  
1. Install roundabouts at:
a. South Barker Road & East 8th Avenue
b. South Barker Road * East 4th Avenue
c. SR-27 at East 16th Avenue, South Pines Road
d. East Mirabeau Parkway & East Mansfield Avenue

2. Video Analytics for Crash Analysis:
a. East Sprague Avenue at Sullivan Road
b. North Pines Road (SR-27) at East Mansfield Avenue
c. North Argonne Road at East Trent Avenue (SR-290)
d. South Pines Road (SR-27) at East 8th Avenue
e. East Sprague Avenue at Pines Road (SR-27)
f. North Sullivan Road Corridor, East Sprague Avenue to East Broadway to East Mission Avenue Hit Pedestrian Crashes

3. University High School Pedestrian Crossing Improvements
4. Sprague Avenue Pedestrian Crossing Improvements (SR-27 to Sullivan Road)
 
Council reached unanimous consensus to proceed with applying for the grant pending motion consideration at a future meeting.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a call for projects in November 2023 for the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) discretionary grant program. The City has previously applied for grants in this program under different acronyms (BUILD and TIGER). The Barker/BNSF project grant was awarded under TIGER.
 
The application due date is February 28th, 2024. The application award date is June 27th, 2024. If awarded, funds must be obligated by September 30, 2028. Staff recommend submitting the Sullivan & Trent Interchange Project for consideration. To date, the City has secured $6.6 million of grant funds and has set aside an additional One million dollars of local funds. That funding covers the engineering and right-of-way phases leaving the construction phase of the project still to be funded. The City’s grant request to the RAISE program will be $25 million as partial funding for the total estimated project cost of $42,340,000. Council reached consensus for staff to proceed with the RAISE application.
 
Spokane Valley City Council meetings are once again held in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, commencing at 6:00pm. City Hall is open for regular business during normal business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm). The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14
 

December 28,  2023

 
 
 

City Council Meetings Return to Spokane Valley City Hall

Spokane Valley, WA – Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, Spokane Valley City Council meetings will return to Council Chambers at City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue. Meetings have been temporarily held at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center since April 2023 due to construction at City Hall. 

New Councilmembers Jessica Yaeger and Al Merkel and returning Councilmember Tim Hattenburg will be sworn in just before this first Council meeting of the new year. 

City Council meetings happen every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Community members are encouraged to share their ideas and thoughts with the Council by attending meetings and speaking for up to three minutes during the public comment portions of the meeting. Citizens can participate in person or during meetings streamed online via Zoom. Meetings can also be watched live stream from the city’s website or broadcast on Comcast Channel 14. Meeting agendas, minutes and previously recorded meetings can be viewed at SpokaneValleyWA.gov/Agendas.

To learn more about City Council meetings and how to watch or participate, visit SpokaneValleyWA.gov/CityCouncil. 

MEDIA CONTACT                                                                    
Jill Smith, Communications Manager
jsmith@SpokaneValleyWA.gov
d: 509-720-5411, c: 509-953-6695

December 19,  2023

 
 
 
The last meeting of 2023 for the Spokane Valley City Council was Tuesday, December 19th. It marks the end of a 13-year tenure on Council for Arne Woodard and six years for Brandi Peetz. On January 2nd, 2024, Council will resume business with the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor and swearing in of newly elected members.

However, the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting commenced with consideration of Resolution 23-013, adoption of a new Master Fee Schedule, repealing and replacing Resolution 22-023. The City’s Master Fee Schedule was established in December 2022. Implicit in that schedule was automatic inflation adjusted increases to reflect the escalating cost of doing business in these inflationary times. Thus far, departmental increases for 2024 are: Planning-3.12%, Building-3.90%, Parks & Recreation-(Swim lessons, $40 to $48), CenterPlace-various. For a more complete schedule of all fees, please see www.spokanevalleywa.gov. The motion to approve Resolution 23-013 passed unanimously.

The movement of City Council meetings to CenterPlace created administrative problems. Pursuant to state law, the City is required to identify and fix the date, time, and location of its regular meetings. That information has been included in the Council’s Governance Manual. The current situation necessitated that the Governance Manual be amended temporarily to reflect that Council meetings are held at CenterPlace on Tuesdays beginning at 6:00 PM.
Without that change in location being formally made, each meeting must be noticed as a ‘Special Meeting’ to comply with legal noticing regulations. Now, with Council meetings returning to City Hall on January 2nd, Council must formally approve that change.
Other Governance Manual changes relate to:
 Committee assignments. Delineating whose interests the Councilmember is representing when sitting on a committee,board, or commission.
Revisions to the State of Ethics. (See new appendix of the Governance Manual).
Time limits on individual Councilmember reports during City Council meetings.
City Council Media Policy. Providing clear guidelines to prevent Councilmembers from unintentionally violating the Open Public Meetings
Act and/or the Public Records Act.

Staff are preparing the draft Ethics Code which will include a process to address potential violations of the Governance manual where or when appropriate. The motion to approve the Governance Manual as presented passed 4-3. (Wick, Hattenberg, and Peetz, no) 
Each year amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan can be proposed for addition to the Comprehensive Plan Docket. Two such amendments were proposed, both by the City, and both were map amendments. The first, owned by Spokane Conservation District, is located at 4418 East 8th Avenue, and would change 44 acres from Multi-Family Residential (MFR) to Mixed Use. An additional piece would change 5.2 acres from MFR to Single-Family residential (SFR). The second plan amendment would change 0.83 acres owned by Family Promise of Spokane at 17103 E. Main Avenue from SFR to Corridor Mixed Use. The motion to approve the 2024 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket passed unanimously.

In the finalization of the Barker Road/BNSF rail crossing project and subsequent acquisitions of property, there has arisen the possible necessity for condemnation proceedings to continue acquiring required property. To accomplish this, the existing contract with the City’s consultant, David Evans and Associates, needs to be expanded by $25,000 from $3,171,274.69 to cover the possibility of needing expert testimony on probable court action. Any such requirement would be on-call as needed and paid for on a time and material basis. The motion to finalize and execute a supplemental agreement with the consultant passed unanimously.

Council considered and passed a 3% employee compensation adjustment and amended City Employee Pay Matrix. The motion to approve passed 5-2. (Wick and Padden, no) 

The City has envisioned a new 10-foot asphalt trail (the River Loop Trail) on the north side of the Spokane River mirroring the Centennial Trail on the south side. The proposed trail would be in two phases over 4.7 miles in length beginning at Plante’s ferry on the west and ending at Flora Road at the planned future Flora Park. However, funding and problems with properties that the trail would pass through have caused staff to recommend deferral of the project (both phases) until property rights and other matters can be resolved. Consensus was reached to do so.

A discussion on how to prioritize the spending of money in the Capital
Reserve Fund was the last item on the agenda. Consensus was reached to place funds in these accounts consideration of possible financial needs.
1. $600,000 for contingent City Hall repairs
2. $200,000 for planning for Barker/I-90 Interchange
3. $412,000 Replenish Service Level Stabilization Reserve Fund
4. The remainder, as yet undetermined, will be allocated to the City’s
Public Safety Campus
Consensus was reached to accept the tentative allocations.

This being our last opportunity, here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a most Joyous and Prosperous New Year!
Barring unexpected difficulties, the January Spokane Valley City Council meeting will be in City Hall, 10210 E. Sprague Avenue, commencing at 6:00pm on January 2nd, 2024.

City Hall, however, is otherwise open for regular business during normal business hours.
The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14.
 

December 12,  2023

 
 
 
As previously mentioned in this column, lots of business gets packed into the waning days of the year. This and next week are no exceptions. The business resumed with the second reading of Ordinance 23-024 establishing the Transportation Benefit District Tab Fee.

On October 24th, Council adopted Ordinance 23-018 forming a Transportation Benefit District (TBD). The TBD authorizes the City, under state law, to establish annual vehicle fees, taxes, and other revenue sources. Allowable uses for TBD funds are transportation improvements that construct, preserve, maintain and operate the existing and future transportation infrastructure of the City.

The newly created TBD is a separate legal entity. At its last meeting, Council adopted Ordinance 23-022, under which the City assumes the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD. A complete copy of the ordinance can be found on the City website: www.spokanevalleywa.gov.

After Council discussion on funding the TBD to perform its intended use of maintaining City roads, consensus was reached to draft an Ordinance (23-024) establishing an annual vehicle license fee of $20 and the allowable uses for the funds collected. The motion to adopt Ordinance 23-024 passed 4-3 (Padden/Wick/Peetz-no).

On November 14, 2023, Council reached consensus to expand the use of its available CLFR (Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds) to include non-profits that provide human trafficking prevention. To that end, RFPs (Requests for Proposal) were solicited, with two responses: Lutheran Community Services Northwest, and the Jonah Project. Consideration of those proposals followed the presentation to Council by each entity using the same scoring system as the City’s Outside Agency Grants Program. The motion to not award any funds because neither applicant garnered sufficient Council votes to receive an award. The CLFR funds will remain for distribution at Council discretion.

On September 20th, 2022, Spokane Valley City Council established the Spokane Valley Tourism Promotion Area (TPA). Pursuant to the TPA, the Spokane Valley Hotel Commission (Commission) was formed. The Commission hired 116 & West as their marketing consultant. However, 116 & West did not have the qualifications to provide sporting events recruitment and marketing services for the City. Recognizing that, the Commission selected Spokane Sports to provide sports recruitment services. Spokane Sports, by request from the Commission, submitted a proposal to work with 116 & West to round out the package to brand the City as a “host city” for future sports events. That relationship continues through 2024 with the cost for 2024 increasing to $400,000 from 2023’s $300,000. The motion to approve the new contract passed unanimously.

On October 26th, the City’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) met to receive proposals from applicants and make suggestions for allocations of lodging tax revenues collected for the purpose of promoting conventions and tourist travel to the City. In addition to the usual applications, this year the City of Spokane Valley applied for $4.4 million to help fund a proposed cross-country track. The allocations made were: 
Applicant;  Amount Requested;  Amount Granted
Cody Productions;  $10,000;  $8,250
CNC Productions;  $10,000;  $7,000
Family Guide ; $15,000;  $12,000
JAKT—CRAVE;  $60,000 ; $48,750
JAKT—Farmer’s Market ; $20,000 ; $12,250
Northwest Winterfest; $45,000; $36,250
Spokane Conservation District;  $101,860;  $20,750
Spokane Fair & Expo Center;  $75,000;  $55,250
Spokane Valley Heritage Museum;  $37,500 $26,125
Spokane Valley HUB; $147,000; $147,000
Spokane Valley Summer Theatre; $25,000; $25,000
Victory Media; $50,000 $38,750
Washington State Quilters Spokane Chapter; $25,000; $17,500
WinterGlow Spectacular; $20,000; $3,750
Total; $641,360; $458,625
City of Spokane Valley/Spokane Sports; $4,400,000; $4,400,000


The two categories required two separate motions. Motion #1 was for the approval of the non-City allocations as presented, which passed unanimously. Motion #2 was for the allocation to the Cross-Country track for $4.4 million. This, too, passed unanimously.

In discussing the City’s 2024 Federal Legislative Agenda, the following Capital Projects are:
1. The Sullivan/Trent Interchange
2. South Barker Road Corridor Projects
3. Argonne Bridge at I-90
4. Barker/I-90 Interchange
Accompanying the Capital Projects are the following Policy Statements:
1. Concern over the unhoused and growing epidemic of substance abuse
2. Elimination of obstacles to efficient implementation of federal transportation 
      projects
3. Continuation of federal infrastructure partnerships

The motion to approve the 2024 Federal Legislative Agenda as presented passed unanimously.

In a housekeeping vote, Council unanimously approved a new presentation of its previously approved state legislative agenda. The amended presentation is with a different font allowing the entire arrangement to now be on one page front and back. The motion to approve the new form passed unanimously.
The contract for maintaining our parks is up for renewal. With the increase in the size and number of parks together with inflation driven costs for labor and supplies, Council chose to split the single contract into three pieces. When the request for proposals went out, there were three respondents. One eventually dropped out because of the uncertainty of the future cost increases. The other two, Senske Services, who is our current contractor, and Clearwater Summit Group, a Spokane Valley business, both submitted proposals.

The contract for maintaining our linear parks was awarded to Senske Services. The contract for maintaining our “signature” parks (Balfour, Mirabeau) was awarded to Clearwater Summit Group who is also currently involved in the construction of Balfour Park. The third piece, maintenance of the City’s “designated” parks, was awarded to Senske. The motion to approve those contract awards passed unanimously.

Each year amendments to the City’s Comprehensive Plan can be proposed for addition to the Comprehensive Plan Docket. This year, any such amendment had to be submitted prior to November 14th. Two such amendments were proposed, both by the City, and both were map amendments. The first, owned by Spokane Conservation District, is located at 4418 East 8th Avenue and would change 44 acres from Multi-Family Residential to Mixed Use. An additional piece would change 5.2 acres from MFR to Single-Family residential. The second plan amendment would change 0.83 acres owned by Family Promise of Spokane at 17103 E. Main Avenue from SFR to Corridor Mixed Use. A motion consideration is set for December 19th.

Currently, the City contracts with Spokane County for traffic signal, sign, and pavement marking maintenance. The County has up to now been able to meet the needs of the City. However, due to escalating costs and labor shortages, the County will be unable to meet our needs necessitating action by the City to address the problem. Doing so will require, from our assessment of needs, two signal technicians, additional tools and signal equipment, a bucket truck capable of reaching 35’ height for year-round use, an additional fleet service vehicle, and an external support contractor for after hours emergency response. The overall additional cost is estimated to be $5,100. Council reached consensus to continue negotiating a revised interlocal agreement and planning for absorbing the responsibilities of maintaining our own traffic signals.

City Council meetings are held in the Great Room at CenterPlace until further notice. City Hall, however, is open for business during normal business hours. The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14.

December 5,  2023

 
 
 
As the year winds down, only three meetings, including this one, remain to finish City business. The push is to fit all of it into the remaining meetings. This meeting, in the Study Session format, opened with adoption of Ordinance 23-023, clarifying application of ‘clear view triangles.’ Clearview triangles deal with the visibility a motorist has when emerging from a street onto another residential street or arterial. If a clear view triangle doesn’t provide adequate sight lines to ensure safe access, then the situation is dealt with through the City Municipal Code. The City Planning Commission, in its deliberations, discovered a weakness; how to treat alleyways. Based on a Planning Commission recommendation, staff advised the City Code be amended to adopt the commission’s proposed changes. The motion to waive the rules and adopt Ordinance 23-023, amending City Code to include the proposed changes, passed 6-1, Wick-no.
 
On October 24th, Council adopted Ordinance 23-018 creating a new chapter, 3.85 of the Spokane Valley Municipal Code, forming a Transportation Benefit District (TBD). The TBD authorizes the City, under state law, to establish annual vehicle fees, taxes, and other revenue sources. Allowable uses for TBD funds are transportation improvements that construct, preserve, maintain, and operate the existing and future transportation infrastructure of the City.
The newly created TBD is a separate legal entity. At its last meeting, Council adopted Ordinance 23-022, under which the City assumes the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD. A complete copy of the ordinance can be found on the City website: www.spokanevalleywa.gov.
After Council discussion on funding of the TBD to perform its intended use of maintaining City roads, consensus was reached to draft an Ordinance (23-024) establishing an annual vehicle license fee of $20 and the allowable uses for the funds collected. The motion to move Ordinance 23-024 to a second reading passed 4-3 (Padden/Wick/Peetz-no).
 
Next was a motion consideration to adopt a Homeless Action Plan (Plan). The Plan is a high-level plan that provides a roadmap to address, reduce, and prevent homelessness in the City. Leading up to this action, Council has committed to operate its own homeless housing program and to meet all applicable legal and regulatory requirements set forth under state law. 
 
The plan has three primary objectives: 
To prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place whenever possible
To reduce existing levels of homelessness
To improve the quality of life for all Spokane Valley residents
 
The first half of the Plan provides possible strategies for Council to achieve these objectives as funding becomes available. It also provides information on funding sources and crisis/response systems. In committing to its own homeless plan, Council will also need to create a five-year plan before the end of 2024. The motion to adopt the Spokane Valley Homeless Action Plan passed unanimously.
 
Since 2020, Poe Asphalt has provided asphalt repair, roadway shoulder repair and grading, gravel road grading, crack sealing sidewalk and path repair, guardrail repair, fencing repair, drainage structure repair and installation, curb, gutter and inlet repair and installation and other related work as requested. The contract allows 2024 to be the final option year. Poe has provided a good level of service throughout the 2023 contract year and staff recommends exercising the 2024 option year on the contract. The motion to approve the 2024 contract renewal to Poe Asphalt Paving Inc. in an amount not to exceed $1,585,120 for street and stormwater maintenance passed unanimously.
 
In 2019, Council awarded AAA Sweeping, LLC a contract with options for up to four one-year renewals if mutually agreed by both parties. This is the fourth of four renewals. The 2024 option year contract amount will be $620,495.00. Contract specifications note that the parties may negotiate a rate increase for each option year, but it shall not be increased or decreased by more than the percent change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) or 3% whichever is less. The CPI-U increased 7.7% for the contract period. Prevailing wage rates increased from 7.99% to 11.78%, and increased fuel prices. Those rates are capped at the 3% CPI rate noted above. Motion to approve the 2024 contract renewal passed unanimously.
 
The City’s Master Fee Schedule was established in December 2022. Implicit in that schedule was automatic inflation adjusted increases to reflect the escalating cost of doing business in these inflationary times. Thus far, departmental increases are: Planning-3.12%, Building-3.90%, Parks & Recreation-(Swim lessons, $40 to $48), CenterPlace-various. For specific fees, please see www.spokanevalleywa.gov. 
 
On September 20th, 2022, Spokane Valley City Council established the Spokane Valley Tourism Promotion Area (TPA). Pursuant to the TPA, the Spokane Valley Hotel Commission (Commission) was formed. The Commission hired 116 & West as their marketing consultant. However, 116 & West did not have the qualifications to provide sporting events recruitment and marketing services for the City. Recognizing that, the Commission selected Spokane Sports to provide sports recruitment services. Spokane Sports, by request from the Commission, submitted a proposal to work with 116 & West to round out the package to brand the City as a “host city” for future sports events. That relationship continues through 2024 with the cost for 2024 increasing to $400,000 from 2023’s $300,000. Consensus was reached to have execution of a contract addressed at an upcoming Council meeting.
 
An overview of 12 projects completed in 2023 was presented by Bill Helbig, Community & Public Works Director. The cost of those improvements was $27.5 million. A brief summary of those projects include:
• Barker Road/UPRR-Phase 2 Summerfield Local Access
• Hillview Estates Neighborhood University Place Neighborhood
• Balfour Park-Phase 1 Broadway Avenue Preservation
• Broadway and Park Intersection Park Road Sidewalk, Nora to Baldwin
• Sullivan Road Improvements Citywide Reflective Signpost Panels
• Mission Avenue Bridge-Evergreen Deck 8th Avenue Improvements Citywide
 
City Council meetings are held in the Great Room at CenterPlace until further notice. City Hall, however, is open for business during normal business hours. The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 
 

November 21,  2023

 
 
 
This meeting of the Spokane Valley City Council addressed an aggressive agenda containing business items that finalizes the City schedule for year-end completion. The meeting commenced with a public hearing on the proposed 2024 Budget. This was the third such public hearing and the 7th discussion point enroute to adoption.
 
The 2024 Budget’s recurring revenue estimate is $62,316,100 which is 10.45% ($5,897,200) greater than the 2023 budget. The recurring expenditure estimate of $57,976,579 is 7.83% ($4,210,099) more than the 2023 budget of $53,766,480. Estimated budgeted recurring revenues currently exceed recurring expenditures by $4,339,521 or 6.96% of recurring revenues. 
 
The full-time employee count will rise to 116.25, an increase of four employees. Three of those employees will be utilized in administering the Stormwater commitments authorized by Council earlier this year. The fourth will assume additional duties in the accounting department and our recording fee administration program.
 
Following the public hearing on Ordinance #23-021, which adopts the 2024 Budget, Council considered the ordinance and voted 6-1 (Woodard/no) to approve it. That completed the eight discussion points enroute to final adoption of the 2024 City Budget.
Since the last amendment to the City’s 2023 budget on May 30, 2023, a number of events have transpired necessitating a second 2023 Budget Amendment. Those changes resulted in revenue increases of $19,776,029 and expenditure increases of $17,132,199. 
A motion to advance Ordinance 23-020 to a Second Reading passed unanimously.
 
On October 24th, Council adopted Ordinance 23-018 creating a new chapter, 3.85 of the Spokane Valley Municipal Code, forming a Transportation Benefit District (TBD). The new chapter:
a. Establishes a TBD with the same boundaries as the City.
b. The TBD governing board would be City Council.
c. The City is granted all authority allowed under state law (RCW 36.73) to:
i. Establish fees, taxes, and other revenue sources.
ii. Authorize annual vehicle fees.
iii. Submit fees, taxes, and other revenue sources to voters.
d. Identifies allowable uses for TBD funds.
i. Transportation improvements that construct, preserve, maintain, and 
    operate the existing and future transportation infrastructure of the City.
e. Identifies when the TBD is dissolved.
 
The newly created TBD is a separate legal entity. The law allows the City to assume the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD. However, in order to do so, Council must adopt a resolution declaring its intention to consider assumption of the powers of the TBD and conduct a public hearing on the assumption of powers of the TBD. Then it must adopt an ordinance assuming the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD.
 
A public hearing on November 14th was immediately followed by the first reading of Proposed Ordinance No. 23-022 which allows Council to assume the TBD powers. The motion to adopt Ordinance 23-022 passed 6-1 (Padden/no). A complete copy of the ordinance can be found on the City website: www.spokanevalleywa.gov.
 
Since 2005, the YMCA has operated the City’s three outdoor pools. The current contract with the ‘Y’ expires December 31st. The City will be updating its 6-year Parks & Recreation Master Plan in 2024 and 2025 and desires to extend the current contract for another 4-year term starting January 1, 2024, with two consecutive 3-year renewals. Motion to authorize the City Manager to finalize and execute the agreement for Operations and Maintenance of Vallely Pool Facilities passed unanimously.
 
Clearview triangles deal with the visibility a motorist has when emerging from a street onto another residential street or arterial. If a clear view triangle doesn’t provide adequate sight lines to ensure safe access, then the situation is usually dealt with through the City Municipal Code. The City Planning Commission has considered one such weakness; that is alleyways. Based on a Planning Commission recommendation, staff advises the City Code be changed to adopt the commission’s proposed changes. Consensus was reached to bring forward an ordinance to accomplish that.
 
Within Urban Growth Areas (UGAs), it has been agreed in inter-municipality discussions that “Within UGAs, it is most appropriate that urban government services be provided by cites and towns.” The City of Spokane Valley provides public safety, street related services such as plowing, stormwater, and sweeping. The City has retained the services of BERK Consulting to assess the areas adjacent to the City that might be suitable for annexation. BERK has provided a map in preparation for a report for presentation at a future Council meeting. A final report and analysis are expected before the end of the year.
 
The next meeting will be on December 5th.
 
City Council meetings are held in the Great Room at CenterPlace until further notice. City Hall, however, is open for business during normal business hours. The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 

November 14,  2023

 
 
 
Last Tuesday’s elections have significantly changed the makeup of the Spokane Valley City Council beginning January 2, 2024. What the ramifications of the change mean will be tested at the very first meeting on January 2nd. In the meantime, in the remaining five Council meetings in 2023, the agenda to finalize action on a variety of issues will be rapidly moving forward.
 
On October 24th, Council adopted Ordinance 23-018 creating a new chapter, 3.85 of the Spokane Valley Municipal Code, forming a Transportation Benefit District (TBD). The new chapter:
Establishes a TBD with the same boundaries as the City.
The TBD governing board would be City Council.
Grants to the City all authority allowed under state law (RCW 36.73)
May establish fees, taxes, and other revenue sources.
May authorize annual vehicle fees.
May submit fees, taxes, and other revenue sources to voters.
Identifies allowable uses for TBD funds.
Transportation improvements that construct, preserve, maintain, and operate the existing and future transportation infrastructure of the City.
Identifies when the TBD is dissolved.
 
The newly created TBD is a separate legal entity. The law allows the City to assume the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD. However, in order to do so, Council must adopt a resolution declaring its intention to consider assumption of the powers of the TBD and conduct a public hearing on the assumption of powers of the TBD. Then it must adopt an ordinance assuming the rights, powers, functions, and obligations of the TBD.
 
Resolution 12-012 set this meeting for the public hearing. The public hearing was immediately followed by the first reading of Proposed Ordinance No. 23-022 allowing the Council to assume the TBD powers. The motion to advance Ordinance 23-022 to a second reading passed 6-1 (Padden/no).   A complete copy of the ordinance can be found on the City website: www.spokanevalleywa.gov.
 
Reduction of nuisance properties is an issue that has prompted Council to deal with “junk vehicles” and parking on private property. The  issue has been the basis for several discussions and is once again up for consideration. In prior Council discussions, Council voiced concerns about definitions used to determine actionable offenses. That question is clarified by Ordinance 23-019 which defines the terms applying to the offensive action. “Chronic nuisance property,” “junk vehicle,” “nuisance/nuisance activities,” and “ongoing criminal activity” are all defined. The ordinance goes into much greater detail and can be found in its entirety at www.spokanevalleywa.gov. The motion to adopt Ordinance 23-019 passed unanimously.
 
The ongoing saga of change orders for the Barker Road/BNSF interchange with the Max J. Kuney Company has moved to approval of payment for Change Order Number 69 for $72,134.00. That brings the total of change order payments thus far to $2,076,184.63. The motion to approve Change Order Number 69 in the amount of $72,134.00 passed unanimously.
 
Having created a Transportation Benefit District, it now is incumbent upon its governing board (Council) to produce an acceptable method of funding. Since 2018, the City has reliably provided an annual average allocation of $8 million to the local street wear fee from available funds. Those funds, such as the telephone tax, have been in decline since its inception causing the need to increase the transfer of general operating funds to cover the increasing shortfall in road maintenance and preservation. Currently that transfer is just short of $5 million. 
 
Those transfers result in a reduction of available general funds for other priority purposes such as public safety, economic development, parks, homeless, and affordable housing services. The 2019-2020 Street Sustainability Committee suggested a TBD to address the problem with two suggestions for adequately funding the problem: 1) A vehicle license fee. Such a fee at the $20 level could raise an estimated $2.8 million and/or 2) A TBD sales tax. A 0.1% sales tax (based on 2022 sales tax collections) could produce an estimated $3,800,000. An attractive feature of this option is that approximately 48% of sales tax collections come from non-Valley residents. Council reached consensus for staff to create a plan for ascertaining the effect of a $20 tab fee.

In discussing the City’s 2024 Federal Legislative Agenda, the following Capital Projects are:
The Sullivan/Trent Interchange
South Barker Road Corridor Projects
Argonne Bridge at I-90
Barker/I-90 Interchange
Accompanying the Capital Projects are the following Policy Statements: 
Concern over the unhoused and growing epidemic of substance abuse
Elimination of obstacles to efficient implementation of federal transportation projects
Continuation of federal infrastructure partnerships
 
At its August 29th meeting, Council collected information about a partnership with Spokane County Behavioral Health and East Vallely School District for a student wellness program. Subsequently, the County opted to fully fund that program, releasing the City funds that had been identified as available if needed. Tonight’s discussion centered on other uses for those funds using an RFP (Request for Proposal) system for applications. The available funds are approximately $1,000,000.
 
Since 2005, the YMCA has operated the City’s three outdoor pools. The current contract with the ‘Y’ expires December 31st. The City will be updating its 6-year Parks & Recreation Master Plan in 2024 and 2025 and wants to extend the current contract for another 4-year term starting January 1, 2024, with minor revisions. Consensus was reached to proceed.
 
On October 26th, the City’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) met to receive proposals from applicants and make suggestions for allocations of lodging tax revenues collected for the purpose of promoting conventions and tourist travel to the City. In addition to the usual applications, this year the City of Spokane Valley applied for $4.4 million to help fund a proposed cross-country track. The allocations made were:
Amount    Amount 
APPLICANT; Amount Requested; Amount Granted
Cody Productions; $10,000; $8,250
CNC Productions; $10,000; $7,000
Family Guide; $15,000; $12,000
JAKT—CRAVE; $60,000; $48,750
JAKT—Farmer’s Market; $ 20,000; $12,250
Northwest Winterfest; $45,000; $36,250
Spokane Conservation District; $101,860; $20,750
Spokane Fair & Expo Center; $75,000; $55,250
Spokane Valley Heritage Museum; $37,500; $26,125
Spokane Valley HUB; $147,000; $147,000
Spokane Valley Summer Theatre; $25,000; $25,000
Victory Media; $50,000; $38,750
Washington State Quilters-Spokane Chapter; $25,000; $17,500
WinterGlow Spectacular; $20,000; $3,750
Total; $641,360; $458,625
City of Spokane Valley/Spokane Sports; $4,400,000; $4,400,000
 
City Council meetings are held in the Great Room at CenterPlace until further notice. City Hall, however, is open for business during normal business hours. The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14. 
 

November 7,  2023

 
 
 
The Spokane Valley City Council met in a special session on Monday to hear a presentation by Richard Brady, President of Matrix Consulting Group, retained to evaluate the City’s law enforcement condition and make recommendations for improvement. The meeting took place a day earlier because Council traditionally does not meet on election day.
 
The report, being very lengthy and, at this time, of extreme importance to the City, can be viewed in its entirety at www.spokanevalleywa.gov.
The objectives of the study were fourfold:
1. Analyze police workloads and service levels.
2. Compare police services in Spokane Valley to best practices.
3. Evaluate staffing levels and operations.
4. Evaluate opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of police services.

With those objectives in mind, the findings and recommendations were made in the following areas:
1. Administration 2. Shared Services 3. Patrol Operations 4. Property and Drug Crimes
These areas were studied using extensive interviews with Sheriff’s Office personnel serving the City and collection of data to support the complete analysis of all police functions in the City. A comparison of operations management practices against best practices in law enforcement together with an extensive review with the City and Sheriff’s Office.

Recommendations for Patrol:
1. Increase patrol staffing by 9 officers (to 58). Also add one patrol sergeant. Not unexpected since the Valley patrol ranks have been habitually understaffed.
2. The increased number would make service capabilities throughout the day consistent while providing for proactive response enhancements.
3. Adding officers also increases the span of control for field supervisors (sergeants).
4. Achieving the productivity level expected from the suggested numbers should deliver a high level of service.
 
Recommendation for Traffic Enforcement and Investigations:
1. Increase the traffic enforcement staff by two deputies.
2. Deploying traffic deputies to better cover evenings would provide more visibility at important times.
3. Traffic accident investigations are often handled by non-specialized staff. Increasing investigative staff by one would provide more expertise for this type of investigation.
 
Homeless Outreach and Behavioral Health would be better served by an additional deputy. The addition would provide better coverage throughout the week. The consultant also recommends two civilian mental health staff for the co-responsive team for the City.

Currently, a sergeant and 10 detectives handle City only cases not otherwise addressed by the Major Crimes Unit in a ‘shared’ capacity. The consultant recommends an additional sergeant and 6 more detectives to provide the necessary resources for more effective coverage.
 
In summary, the consultant recommends 118 officers dedicated exclusively to the City. This is an increase of 26 from the current 92. In the Shared Resources (between the County and the City), the consultant suggests a new total of 42 deputies, an increase of three over the current 39.
 
The City is confronted with a sizeable increase in law enforcement personnel (29) at a cost per person of between $150,000 and $200,000. At a time when inflation and other current events are placing severe stress on the City’s resources and the law enforcement profession, this poses a most vexing problem.
In other events on this week’s calendar, election of three Spokane Valley City Council positions were on the ballot:
Spokane Valley City Council:
Position #2: Jessica Yeager vs. Rachel Briscoe.  
Position #3: Arne Woodard vs. Al Merkel
Position #6: Rob Chase vs. Tim Hattenberg.
 
As this goes to press (11/07/23) the initial results are:
Yeager defeating Briscoe 63%--35%
Woodard losing to Merkel 34%--65%
Chase losing to Hattenberg 46%--54%
 
City Council meetings are held in the Great Room at CenterPlace until further notice. City Hall, however, is open for business during normal business hours. The Public is invited to Council meetings to participate in action items or public comment periods in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions. Council meetings are broadcast on Comcast channel 14.
 

The City Council holds more formal meetings the second and fourth Tuesday of each month and holds Study Sessions on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Agendas, minutes and background materials can be found on the City’s website: www.SpokaneValley.org by 5pm the Friday before each meeting.

Contact City of Spokane Valley:

10210 E. Sprague Ave.
509-921-1000
www.SpokaneValley.org