Taxes, Streets Leading Post Falls Issues Candidates Offer Varying Solutions To Top Problems
Curbless streets peppered with potholes. High taxes. A downtown that’s hard to pinpoint. Crowded schools.
Although they love their little city, the six candidates in Post Falls’ city elections have focused on several faults as they campaign.
Taxes and streets are top issues that candidates have raised in this laid-back election year.
“I finally got tired of complaining about them and decided to get in a position where I could do something,” said Don Kline, a sheriff’s deputy who is challenging incumbent Mayor Jim Hammond.
Running for the two at-large City Council positions are another sheriff’s deputy, Joe Bodman, incumbent Scott Grant, former school board member Clay Larkin and Bob Hunt. Hunt declined to be interviewed, saying “I have given up on the papers.”
The fact that two candidates are sheriff’s deputies had incumbents wondering whether their opponents’ agenda was to merge the Post Falls 911 dispatch center with the county’s dispatch center - long a sore spot between county and Post Falls city officials.
Although the two deputies may take a more-critical look at police department operations, there’s no conspiracy to wrest 911 control from Post Falls, they say.
Kline said it would take a court order before he would consolidate the city’s 911 center with the county’s.
Bodman, on the other hand, believes the two should be combined because that’s what voters decided in a 1990 countywide election.
“Somewhere, somehow things got really goofed up where the politicians think the people work for them,” Bodman said.
If the two deputies have a similar agenda, it’s to bring City Hall closer to its residents and slow growth. Kline wants to regularly send out surveys to gather the opinions of city residents.
Bodman starts waving his arms in frustration when he recalls the lengthy election day survey that Post Falls residents participated in two years ago.
The majority of voters back then said they thought the city was growing too fast, but the council continued to allow residential development and approved a 360-acre annexation for homes.
“They’re not looking at the consequences with the schools and the roads. They’re killing the school system,” Bodman said.
In addition to “runaway” growth, both Bodman and Kline complain about high taxes.
Hammond, Grant and Larkin say attracting commercial, industrial and highend residential development will help lower residential taxes. In turn, that will increase the school district’s bonding capacity and make school construction more affordable. “I’m pro-growth regarding industry and commercial business, and … quality and responsible single-family residential,” Grant said. “I’m not terribly excited about high-density residential.”
If the city puts a moratorium on residential growth, that will discourage business and industry from moving in, Hammond argues.
Hammond and Larkin said their goal is a 50/50 split between the residential and commercial tax base. Now, two-thirds of the tax base comes from homeowners.
The city’s pursuit of economic development and attempt to hold the line on spending pleases Larkin. He’s running for office because council member Karen Streeter chose not to run again, he said.
Larkin gets high marks from incumbents for attending nearly every council meeting for the last several months. He doesn’t just watch. Last summer he urged the council to do something about the growing traffic problems on Idaho Street.
Hammond and Grant acknowledge traffic improvements and street repair need more attention.
Kline gets more worked up about streets than nearly any other issue.
“They’re constantly going around and patching and patching and patching,” he said. “It’s time to get them fixed right.”
Hammond said the city plans to do that next summer with a program to replace many of the pothole-prone streets built to old county standards. Neighborhoods will form local improvement districts to pay for twothirds of the cost, while the city picks up the other third, he said.
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