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Huetter: The best it can with what it's got

by Alecia Warren
| 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.

The city of Huetter is doing the best it can with what it's got.

Officials of the small town nestled between Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls say that declining city income makes it harder to budget all the services they want to provide, especially a costly water system upgrade.

"In these meager times, Huetter is still moving forward," said city clerk Lang Sumner. "We're doing everything we can to benefit the citizens of Huetter."

The city's 2010-11 budget is $70,909, exactly $10,000 less than the previous year. That's due to less state funding and the economy's blow to city businesses, Sumner said.

With Huetter's population of 98, the city is spending $723.56 per resident.

It's enough to deliver the very basics, Sumner said, like providing street lights, water, snow removal, street repairs and funding city administration.

The city has been saving to repair a dilapidated alleyway in the middle of town, he added.

"It (Huetter) builds up the meager funds it has, and then they repair these things," he said. "It's a different concept than in larger cities."

City council member and acting Mayor Brad Keene said the city is looking into options to increase revenue.

"We're concentrating on the businesses inside the city, seeing if there is anything we can do to help them increase their revenue so we can increase tax revenue, without raising taxes," Keene said.

The city hasn't had to make any substantial cuts to services, he added, "but it's kind of a thing we look at month to month."

The city's biggest priority now is hunting for funding to revamp its water system, Keene said, as both the cities of Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene recently denied adding Huetter to their systems.

"Right now we have an old well, and it's just not up to par," Keene explained.

Huetter has already passed a $500,000 bond for a new system, he said, which he estimates is about half of what the city needs.

He predicted the city will be seeking a lot of grants.

"This is a five-year project, if not longer," he said.

Huetter has a long history of being lean where it has to be, Sumner said, pointing out that council members earn $20 a month.

"It's so small we don't even have a city hall," he said, adding that city meetings are held in the office of the city attorney. "We're not going anywhere. We'll work through things, and make it happen."

Per-citizen

spending

* Coeur d'Alene, $1,618

* Post Falls, $1,096

* Hayden, $268

* Rathdrum, $800

* Dalton Gardens, $226

* Spirit Lake, $2,057

* Athol, $697

* Hauser, $172

* Hayden Lake, $1,344

* Fernan Lake Village, $669

* Huetter, $724

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