Consider the belt tightened.
The Coeur d’Alene City Council this week whittled away nearly half a million dollars from what looked like a done-deal 2018-19 budget.
The figure wasn’t arbitrary. By exercising $480,000 worth of fiscal restraint, the city is able to look its citizens in the eye and tell them that the next budget was adopted with no property tax increase. It had been looking down the barrel of a 2.25 percent property tax hike prior to Tuesday night.
Now Kootenai County’s two biggest burgs, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, have showed a determination to slow down the spending train even when the state and national economy is zipping along at light speed. Both aimed for no property tax increase, and both hit the bull’s-eye.
In Coeur d’Alene’s case, the budget of more than $90 million is still a mouthful. But consider the role the Lake City plays in Kootenai County’s and all of North Idaho’s economic hierarchy. Thanks largely to a gorgeous lake, Coeur d’Alene is a draw to people from around the world. To keep it that way, the city has to provide over-the-top service, which it does. It needs more in the way of pristine parks and public facilities, which it has. And it is dependent upon excellent employees, which means they must be well-compensated employees. And they certainly are.
The budget reflects those fulfilled demands but also shows a conscientious effort to pare expenses where it can without diluting the product. That’s particularly important to the many Cd’A taxpayers who are on fixed incomes and might not be enjoying the bounties bestowed on their neighbors by the current economy.
This is the second year in a row Coeur d’Alene has adopted a budget without a property tax increase, and because next year is an election year, it’s likely to be three years in a row for the big zero.
Well done, Mayor Steve Widmyer and City Council.