Monday, August 15, 2022

Cd'A sets $123M 'high water mark' budget; includes 3% tax hike

Staff Writer | August 5, 2022 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — For only the second time since 2014, the Coeur d’Alene City Council is proposing to take the allowable 3% property tax increase in its budget.

City Comptroller Vonnie Jensen said it will generate $710,216 in the city’s 2022-23 financial plan.

She said it is being recommended due to the decrease in the amount the city will receive from the closing of the Lake District, an urban renewal district.

Jensen noted that in the last nine years, the city could have taken up to 27% in property tax hikes, but has instead taken just 5.5%.

“If the City Council agrees to this, the city will still be returning approximately $1 million to its citizens,” Jensen told the council Tuesday.

“This is not a tax increase,” she continued. “This is the only way the state has allowed the city to retain the urban renewal dollars and allow new growth to pay for itself.”

The City Council approved the proposed budget by a 5-1 vote, with Dan Gookin voting no, and set a $123,852,624 "high-water mark" budget, meaning it can go no higher, with a public hearing on Sept. 6.

The revenue includes $27,114,123 in property tax revenue — an increase of $2,560,166 over the previous year.

The increase comes from the closing of the Lake Urban Renewal District and new growth throughout the city.

New growth with the Lake District closure is estimated at $891,661.

City Administrator Troy Tymesen previously told The Press that taking the 3% does not mean property taxes in actual dollars will increase.

The city recently learned its estimated preliminary taxable valuation is $12.3 billion, an 83% increase over the current taxable valuation of $6.8 billion. That lowers the levy rate and when the levy rate drops, dollars generated from assessed property values drop.

The city's financial plan calls for projected capital purchases of $6.1 million including $3 million for the police station expansion; $1 million for a street department shop remodel and $986,610 for self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department.

Most of that would be funded by American Rescue Plan Act funding of $6.2 million.

Projected significant expenses include merit increases, $171,727; cost of living adjustments for full-time staff of 5% at $1.4 million; health insurance increase, $160,265; additional staff, $522,830 and service and supplies, $2.1 million.

The city is proposing to add a communications specialist at $83,590; an IT tech, $82,474; a police application analyst, $81,126; a firefighter, $105,298; and 1.87 positions in the streets department at $160,718.

In 2022-23, the city is projecting revenue of $55.2 million, and expenses of $56.6 million. It would make that up by using $1.4 million from the general fund, projected to be $11.2 million on Sept. 30. It is estimated to be $9.8 million Sept. 30, 2023. The city likes to have two months worth of revenue in the general fund.

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