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Fernan Lake Village: A reasonable price What the citizens say

| December 22, 2010 8:00 PM

"Editor's note: You can't put a price tag on quality of life in any given city, but you can do some simple math and figure out about what each city spends on its residents.

The Press offers an informal but, we hope, interesting series that looks at the budgets of Kootenai County cities and determines how those budgets translate into per-resident spending.

We also offer perspectives from people who live in these communities about how much bang they believe they get for their municipal-targeted buck.

By TOM HASSLINGER

Staff writer

COEUR d'ALENE - Fernan Lake Village, the town of 186 residents east of Coeur d'Alene, expects to spend $669.41 on each of its residents in 2011.

That breaks down to $1.83 per citizen, per day.

A bargain, Mayor Jim Elder said, as the village is in charge of two big departments, offering street and sewer services. The price is reasonable too, as the town hasn't asked for an increase in property taxes in four years, keeping its expenditures low, he said.

"We don't let any expenditure go through without looking at all the competitive numbers," Elder said. "We have great services in Fernan, and we've managed to be efficient in what we're doing."

The street department, which contracts out for plowing, maintains the village's roughly two miles of roads. Its sewer department is a bulk of Fernan's expenses.

This year it's spending around $40,000 from its savings to upgrade its sewer system. That money has been collected over time for capital repairs. It's only expecting to spend $40,900 from its general fund.

The village boasted a population of 186 residents in the last U.S. Census. The 2000 Census listed 60 households with 52 families residing in the village proper, comprising one-tenth of one square mile.

But households could be closer to 72 now, officials estimate.

"It's pretty minimal in many respects," said Richard Jurvelin, first year councilman and resident of Fernan for six years. "We offer the most for the buck, I think."

The town contracts out its law enforcement and fire department duties, and throws a summer party every year for its residents. It hosts a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony every season and provides an annual spring clean up. That's a lot of services for what amounts to less than $2 a day, Jurvelin said.

"I think that's pretty reasonable to tell you the truth," he said. "That's less than a latte a day."

The town, which has three employees, anticipates drawing in $144,000 in revenue in 2011, and spending $124,512.

We do like living here. The quality of the neighborhood is great, we love it and the feel. I think the services are good and the reason they can stay that way is the size of the neighborhood."

- Chris Moon, 43

"For the money we get, we get the services too. We have good street lights, we have well maintained streets with snow removal in the winter and they're swept in the spring ... and we don't have the expenses of the big cities. For what the city provides, they do a good job."

- Bill Smith, 57

"It's a huge difference in winter maintenance (having moved from Spokane six years ago). It seems our streets our cleared within an hour or two after the snow falls. And there are just a lot of neighborhood types of things that we've enjoyed, like the Christmas party for the kids and the summer party. It's been pretty nice living in that area; we're really glad we located there."

- Ian Martin, 41

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