City tax rates won’t increase next year, despite a $4 million budget increase that includes pay raises for staff and administrators.
That’s because most of the increased spending goes for things like water and sewer projects. Those operations pay their own way with money from utility bills, Mayor Al Hassell said.
If this $33.4 million budget is approved, it will be the second consecutive year the city has not sought an increase in property tax rates. Hassell said he expects the trend to continue.
“We have to get away from property taxes and put the burden on the people using the services,” he said.
The city plans to drill a new water well next year, at a cost of roughly $400,000. About $1.7 million will go to pay for the recently completed expansion of the sewer treatment plant and for a new sewage pump station.
Next year’s proposed 3 percent salary increase for city employees increase will cost about $400,000. That will be covered by revenue from new construction permits and budget cuts, Hassell said.
The three bargaining units that represent city employees haven’t signed the contract. But firefighters, police officers and other employees are expected to agree to the terms, which also include a 4 percent salary increase in fiscal year 1996-97.
Coeur d’Alene’s 220 full-time employees didn’t receive a raise this year.
The mayor and council members discussed salary increases for themselves because their work load is growing and they are dropping behind elected officials in comparable communities, Hassell said. They decided against a raise to hold the line on spending.
So council members will continue earning $400 a month and the mayor, $800 a month. That rate was set in 1988.
The City Council will see the preliminary budget next week. The public will have a chance to comment on the spending plan in early September.
Other spending increases include a contingency fund to cover a $2.4 million judgment a Utah contractor won in 1994 after claiming it was wrongly fired from a sewage treatment plant project. The case is being appealed.