A tale of two cities

Cd'A, Spokane to join, but only for statistics

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COEUR d'ALENE - The more things change, the more they stay the same.

While Coeur d'Alene and neighbor Spokane may combine names for a new statistical area in 2013, things - other than the name - might not change.

That's because both Coeur d'Alene and Spokane will keep their own designated metropolitan areas. The combined one would just be another layer to tracking statistics, and not replace or merge the two entities.

So, federally, financing likely won't be affected, and Coeur d'Alene won't have to adopt Spokane rules or vise versa, officials said Tuesday.

"In realty there is very little difference," said Glenn Miles, Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization director.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the combination will be the result of the 2010 Census, called Spokane-Coeur d'Alene.

As a result of adding the 138,000 residents of Kootenai County to the 471,000 residents of Spokane County, the new metro area would boast 609,000 people, 87th among the nation's metro areas, just ahead of Lakeland, Fla., and just behind Boise.

The U.S. Bureau didn't return messages from The Press, but Jeff Selle, KMPO government affairs manger, said KMPO, Census Bureau and federal highways and transit representatives met weeks ago to determine possible funding outcomes.

It could affect some United States Department of Agriculture funds that are geared specifically for rural areas. If the former rural areas are switched to urban areas under the change, that could tie up some of that money, but so far the talk has been to grandfather in old rural designations so change likely wouldn't happen on that front either.

That decision could come in the next year.

"I don't think it's going to mean a darn bit of difference," Selle said about likely funding impacts, since both areas are keeping their own metro-designations as well. "We're not going to be merged into one, except one set of statistics will be kept on the whole area. That's it."

The combined population would also put the area on more economic development radars. Bigger corporations looking to locate to an area often don't locate to statistical areas with less than 500,000 people. The combination would put the area above that threshold.

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