The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Al Stover 

Ritzville Council approves 2019-2024 TIP, comprehensive plan

 


At the July 17 meeting, the Ritzville City Council approved a resolution to adopt the Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for 2019-2024.

During the public hearing, Council Member Scott Yaeger noted six of the seven priority projects in the proposed plan were listed in the 2018-2023 document the Council adopted in 2017.

Yaeger said the only new project in the plan was Priority No. 2, which is a reconstruction of a portion of Weber Road and Galbreath Way, from Jackson Street to Fairway Avenue.

In other action items, the Council approved a resolution adopting the City’s comprehensive plan from 2015.

Clerk-Treasurer Julie Flyckt explained city staff will spend the next two years developing regulations to define and protect critical areas such as wetlands, fish and wildlife habitats, and aquifer recharge areas. The regulations would be added to the comprehensive plan and be adopted by the City.

She added the City received a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to cover the cost of the work to update the plan.

In other business, Ritzville Downtown Development Association (RDDA) President John Rankin asked the City to consider installing a handicap parking spot near the Ritz Theatre.

Rankin explained the proposed parking space would help accommodate patrons who need assistance in accessing the sidewalk near the Theatre.

He suggested designating a parking spot at the sidewalk where there is a middle curb cut. He had also spoken to Big Bend Bowl Owner Todd Young who he said had no objections to the proposal.

Cook said he would like to have an inspector make sure the proposed handicap parking space would be ADA compliant before the City would move forward with the request.

As a follow up from a Council request, Flyckt presented data relating to the amount of time the three City Hall office employees spend assisting customers with utility billing each month.

Flyckt explained there are 836 customers who receive a utility bill each month, and 937 including property owners.

She noted the office experiences a high volume of calls and walk-ins over a nine-day period each month. For the payment process, the office staff spends an average of 32 hours with bill payment for the 836 customers.

This includes entering data for customer checks, credit card payments over the phone or in person, cash walk-ins, automatic check withdrawal, bill pay checks from banks and emailing invoices to businesses.

Flyckt added staff also spends an average of seven-and-a-half hours processing late fees.

This includes four hours preparing and reviewing late bills, updating the system to include late fees and mailing out notices to customers. Staff also spends time responding to customers who follow up on late fees.

She noted staff only has 30 minutes of data entry with automatic check withdrawals. Flyckt added the more customers utilize the automatic withdrawal process, the less likely they will receive a late notice.

Flyckt said she is hoping to have more customers register for automatic withdrawal and decrease the time staff spends on processing bill payments.

Flyckt added she wanted to continue research before she revisits the proposal from Vision Municipal Solutions, LLC for electronic bill and utility payment, which she presented at the July 3 meeting.

In department reports, McCormick mentioned the Police Department placed a speed trailer on First Avenue near the east end of the city limits. Officers placed the second trailer near RDO Equipment Inc. to monitor traffic coming from the west side of Main Avenue.

Flyckt provided an update for the current income survey. She explained the survey was mailed to utility customers.

She added if the City does not receive the required 248 responses in the mail, Evergreen Rural Water of Washington will visit Ritzville to conduct personal interviews with residents.

In regards to the First Avenue Beautification Project, Council Member Mike Schrag said he purchased brick and lava rocks for the project, and is seeking volunteers to help him with the work.

In other business, Schrag explained the Finance Committee authorized $4,590 to update the City’s code publishing ordinance. He said the funds will cover the costs associated with updating the ordinance.

The Council also voted to schedule Sept. 21 for a council retreat to discuss and review the City’s 2019 preliminary budget.

 

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