The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously hired a lobbyist Tuesday to go after federal funding for several hoped for rail-crossing improvements.
The council approved a contract with Cardinal Infrastructure LLC for $78,000 per year.
The idea is for the firm to go to Washington, D.C., and pitch the city’s needs for funds to grade-separate problematic rail crossings along the Trent Avenue corridor, mainly at Pines and Park roads. Funding has already been secured for improvements at Barker Road.
The council also approved its budget for 2019, which includes continuing a $26 million contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for police service. There is also money set aside for road preservation and improvements to Browns Park.
The budget also includes funding for two engineers and three construction inspectors for the Public Works Department. While the funding for the positions is earmarked by grants, Council Members Ben Wick and Brandi Peetz said they are uncertain it’s the right move.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with five additional employees…I’m thinking maybe two,” Wick said.
John Hohman, deputy city manager, said the department is becoming overworked and some projects are being delayed.
“It’s to keep up with the workload and it’s production issue,” he said. “It’s not sustainable to push the staff this hard.”
The city anticipates to collect about $45 million in revenue next year, about $2.5 million more than in 2018.
Once again, Spokane Valley will not collect a possible 1-percet property tax levy increase allowed under state law. The city has not done so in 10 years.
While the council is set to meet at its regular time next Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m., the Nov. 27 meeting has been canceled.