Idaho


Budget draws scant attention

So far only a Coeur d’Alene skateboarder has shown interest in the city’s proposed $66.6 million budget, which includes a 3 percent property tax increase and enough cash to hire about 11 new employees.

Finance Director Troy Tymesen is encouraging more people to look at the details of the 2007-08 preliminary budget, which would take effect Oct. 1, and learn how their tax dollars are spent for everything from streets to firefighters. The city has made its Web site interactive so residents can ask questions and get answers online. The preliminary budget and question section is at www.coeurdaleneidaho.org.

Tymesen said the skateboarder wrote to ask when the city planned to improve the skate park near Memorial Field. The answer: Tymesen said some improvements already have been made and others are on the city’s to-do list.

The city will have a public hearing Sept. 4 on the proposed budget, which is about 9 percent higher than this year’s budget. The same night Kootenai County and Post Falls will take comments on their budgets.

“People need to understand how the money works and what services we actually deliver,” Tymesen said, adding that the owner of a $100,000 home in the city pays about $431 in property taxes to the city. “We want to know if that’s okay with them.”

The City Council proposes to take the entire 3 percent in property tax allowed by state law, which totals about $395,919. Last year the city opted, against Tymesen’s recommendation, to take 2 percent. That saved taxpayers about $117,000.

Tymesen said the 3 percent issue hasn’t become as political as last year, when Concerned Businesses of North Idaho pushed all taxing authorities, including the county and other cities, not to take all the money. It was also an election year for the Kootenai County Commission, which added another layer of politics, he said.

Property taxes also were a hot topic regionally last year as property values for North Idaho residents skyrocketed. The values continue to increase, but the Idaho Legislature provided some property tax relief, dissipating many people’s fears about high tax bills.

The 3 percent increase adds about $395,919 to the budget, which Tymesen said is enough to cover increases in wages or health insurance costs.

The city will use the $787,136 in new construction and annexations to cover the cost of the growing city.

“If we had no growth we would be reducing services,” Tymesen said.



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