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New fees for Rathdrum

Staff Writer | August 20, 2020 1:00 AM

Rathdrum City Council adopts 2020-21 budget and fees

In a public hearing Wednesday night, the Rathdrum City Council unanimously approved its proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget, new city fees, and some fee increases.

The 2020-21 budget was balanced at $5,831,027, increasing by $948,838, primarily contributed to by new construction and annexation revenue. Much like surrounding areas, Rathdrum has opted not to take its $86,000 in property tax, but instead put the money into the city’s forgone balance.

According to city administrator Leon Duce’s Wednesday night’s presentation, many of Rathdrum’s expenditures are remaining fairly similar. Notably, the mayor and City Council expenses will stay at $72,350, a $547 decrease from 2018-19. Additionally, Rathdrum decreased its finance, administration, and professional entities, public works, planning and zoning, streets, parks, and cemetery costs.

One expense the city of Rathdrum did increase was its transfer to capital projects, from $172,000 in 2019-20 to $224,781 in 2020-21. Duce said part of this funding allocation is to improve road transportation on Highway 53, Highway 41, Meyer Road, and Lancaster Road.

“It takes a very long time to prepare the budget, and it’s nice to see the public in attendance because so many times we have budget meetings we tend to have no one around, so it’s nice to have everyone come and discuss,” Duce said.

In addition to approving the budget, the Rathdrum City Council passed an ordinance to adopt several new fees and increase others to offset municipal processes. The charges, directly related to the city administration, the building department, the engineering department, parks and recreation, city planning, and public works, were mostly undebated.

However, a 1.8% convenience fee for patrons to pay for city permits and fees with a credit card, received some uncertainty by councilors who felt it could be unfair to citizens.

“I think our taxpayers are buying services, and we don’t build widgets, we supply services,” Mayor Vic Holmes said. “I don’t like the idea of charging them just to make a payment, to me that doesn’t seem fair.”

The fee, Duce said, was initially meant to help pay for the cost of hefty merchant service fees on card purchases over $250 for the city.

“In the month of June, we collected over $100,000 from items that were less than $250, such as water, sewer, and park fees,” Duce said. “The fee charged to the city from these purchases totaled around $1,900 out of pocket.”

Inevitability, the council chose to implement the 1.8% fee on all purchases over $250.

Other adopted fees include a public vendor permit, public records charges, property additions fees, sediment and erosion review charges, costs for Majestic Park’s field lights, and sewer fees.

This story has been updated.