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Money in, money out

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 5, 2020 1:05 AM

Post Falls City Council discusses budget, masks, and vehicle fees in meeting

Post Falls City Council unanimously voted to move forward with their $96,940,893 2020-21 budget in Tuesday’s council meeting. The city’s finance department will come back to finalize the budget with an ordinance at the Aug. 18 council meeting.

Continuing their 12-year streak without property tax increases, the city of Post Falls is diverting the majority of their funding attention to upcoming capital expenditures and staff expenses. Jason Faulkner, the city’s finance and support service director, attributed most of the $28.8 million increase from last year’s budget to the Post Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The treatment plant, which has been under construction for the last few years, has a $25 million price tag looming on the city expenditures. Faulkner assured that despite resident concern, the funding for the project has been raised through wastewater fees collected over multiple years.

In addition to the wastewater plant, Post Falls’ 2020-21 estimated general fund expenses cover a variety of road maintenance, three new staff members, facility improvements, updated agency vehicles, and various city personnel expenses. For full-time city employees, Post Falls budgeted a 2% cost-of-living-adjustment and 3% merit increases. The city council salaries are not included in this bracket as council members vote on their pay according to a salary survey taken every two to three years.

During the meeting, the Post Falls city council voted to use up to $30,000 in CARES Act funding to take part in an area-wide mask campaign to encourage residents to wear masks and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The $61,017, six-week campaign will distribute print, radio, television, billboard, and signage advertising throughout Kootenai County.

“Prior to the mandate from Panhandle Health District being adopted, the City of Coeur d’Alene and the other participants came together to do a mask-wearing campaign,” City Administrator Shelly Enderud said. “We have been working with them, but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to bring it to the council and get formal support.”

Through this action, Post Falls joined Coeur d’Alene, Panhandle Health District, Kootenai Health, Heritage Health, School District 271, School District 273, North Idaho College, and Knudtsen Chevrolet on the collaborative campaign.

Later in the meeting, the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director, Glenn Miles, discussed a potential $50 local vehicle registration fee that could be on the November ballot.

After updating the Kootenai County transportation master plan in Kootenai County, KMPO discovered the county will need over $1.6 billion in transportation investments within the next 20 years.

“Rather than take the big bite and say how do we deal with $1.6 billion worth of projects,” Miles said, “KMPO decided to take a more strategic approach on the most important projects that affect everybody’s lives on a daily basis.”

Some of the 12 regional projects include work on Interstate 90, fixing Pleasant View Road, redoing Atlas Road, replacing the bridge on Interstate 90, creating a regional traffic management center, and fixing Highway 53 in Athol.

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Mayor Ron Jacobson wears face covering during city council meeting Tuesday.