(The following story was originally published April 4, 2003.)
It started with balloons, cake and a sweaty, standing-room-only crowd. It will end with interviews for a city manager.
Welcome to the city of Spokane Valley: Week 1.
Those planning on attending Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the first official day of incorporation had to show up early if they wanted a spot in the newly refurbished council chambers. Even County Commissioner Kate McCaslin could only peek through an inside window at the interim City Hall at Redwood Plaza.
On March 31, 2003, Mayor Mike DeVleming — backed by Council Members Richard Munson and Mike Flanigan along with Deputy Mayor Diana Wilhite — signed the proclamation making Spokane Valley the state's newest incorporated city. Photo by: Gary Roberto
Mayor Mike DeVleming promised it would be over quick, as he was certain "we're violating every fire code in the new city" as an excited crowd squashed its way inside the body-heated room.
Cheers erupted as DeVleming proclaimed the city open and ready to go to work with a $3 million budget surplus for 2003.
A cake was then cut, and the group mingled through the new city offices and chatted with its leaders.
By Tuesday night's council meeting, when the crumbs had been swept and the punch spills mopped up, DeVleming was still smiling.
"I want to thank the community," he said. "It was exciting to stand in this room with what seemed like every person who voted for incorporation."
Recognized at Monday's ceremony were a dozen community members who have worked to incorporate the Valley on numerous occasions over the years. They include Ed Mertens, Dick Behm, Howard Herman, Joe McKinnon, Clark Hager, Dennis Scott, Philip Rudy, Don Kachinsky, Annette Remshard, Terry Lynch, Ray Perry and Erik Skaggs.
On the business side of things, the city is now the place to go for building permits. Tuesday night, city officials and the council continued to struggle with making city charges similar to county fees.
Ultimately, the council agreed to accept the county's fee schedule for the time being so residents will continue to pay the same rates.
Interim City Manager Lee Walton said there have been some cases where the county did not charge a fee to recover actual costs of providing a service.
"We're trying to recover the actual costs involved," Walton told the council.
He added that Valley residents who need permits to put in sewer lines will still have to take a trip to the Spokane County Health District. The hope is to have a health district employee made available to handle those types of permits at City Hall. So far, no luck, Walton said.
"Change can be hard," he said.
Up next for the council is the hiring of a city manager. Interviews are scheduled for today, Saturday and Sunday.
In the meantime, the council enjoyed its new meeting room — decked out with new lights, sound system and furniture — completed in time for Monday's open house.
"This is a beautiful room," DeVleming said Tuesday.
"It's a first-class operation," added Council Member Richard Munson.