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Post Falls looks at riverfront property

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | December 3, 2020 1:00 AM

POST FALLS — The Post Falls City Council unanimously approved the potential purchase of a $415,000 riverfront property on Tuesday.

The West Lundy Boulevard property, owned and resided in by private citizens, is the final plot along the Post Falls Water Treatment Facility easement to the Spokane River. In anticipation of the facility's potential growth, Post Falls Public Works Director John Beacham said the property could be helpful in the future.

Through a life estate agreement, Beacham said the city could purchase the house now but allow the current owners to live in the house for as long as they were able to. After that, it would become the city's property.

Councilman Alan Wolfe and Mayor Ron Jacobson were hesitant about the purchase. Notably, that Beacham said it could be decades before the city would use the property.

"I just don't like the idea of sitting on a $400,000 property for the next 30 or 40 years," Wolfe said. "Say they live there for the next 10 years, but we don't need it for 20. What do we do in the 10 years until we need it?"

However, the council agreed that the property's availability and cost were an opportunity that wouldn't last forever.

"I think the bedrock of a civilized society is keeping human waste far away from human activity. Probably the most important thing we do as a city is maintaining the wastewater treatment facility," Councilman Joe Malloy said. "And if we try to buy that property 30 years from now, holy smokes, it is going to be crazy."

The city's potential impact is estimated at $415,000, Beacham said, and would be paid out of the Water Reclamation Capital Fund. With support from the council, staff will prepare the documents for future approval.

Post Falls' finance director Jason Faulkner also updated the council on the city's use of almost $1.2 million in CARES Act grant funding.

Since being federally approved in late March, the city has split its chunk of the national $2.2 trillion to last through 2021. In the 2020 fiscal year, which ended in September, staff appropriated $747,200 and saved $447,200 for upcoming expenditures.

Faulkner said the city has spent $238,000 of its $1.2 million budget, with $128,000 already reimbursed by the state.

Some of the purchases paid for by CARES funding, Faulkner said, are fencing for playground equipment, servers and computers for employees who chose to work remotely, and personnel salaries.

City staff plans to submit use of the remaining grant funding to reimburse COVID related public safety payroll expenses.