Thursday, June 20, 2024

County considers capital expenses

Staff Writer | June 10, 2023 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Kootenai County commissioners took a closer look Friday at capital expense requests for fiscal year 2024.

Capital expenses are related to fixed assets, such as buildings, vehicles or equipment.

Requests from various county departments total $17.2 million for the coming fiscal year. This includes $14.2 million in requests from Solid Waste, which is a self-supporting facility, managed as an enterprise fund.

Commissioners made no outright cuts Friday, but considered areas where they might pare back later in the budgeting process, such as a request for $45,000 to cover renovations at the 911 Communications Center employee parking lot.

“My priorities are pay for the entire county and the jail pods,” Commissioner Leslie Duncan said, referring to two unfinished dormitory pods that could house another 108 people in the consistently overcrowded county jail. “What do we have to do this year, and what can we put off?”

Requests from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office include $177,000 for jail laundry equipment and walk-in freezers, as well as $22,000 in associated construction costs.

The sheriff's office has also requested $196,000 to purchase four unmarked patrol vehicles to be used by detectives. Commissioners indicated they may provide funds for three of the requested vehicles and cut a fourth.

The building and grounds department requested $459,000 to repair the sidewalk between the county administration building and courthouse and to replace an elevator in the Juvenile Justice Center on Fourth Street.

Commissioners have floated the idea of selling the latter building after the Justice Building located on the county’s main campus is expanded to add courtrooms.

“I don’t want to sink half-a-million dollars into something that I hope we’re going to sell,” Duncan said.

“I don’t want to get stuck in the elevator,” Commissioner Bill Brooks replied. “But I think we could wait.”

Commissioners will balance the budget over five more deliberation meetings between now and July 17. The county must publish the preliminary balanced budget by Aug. 14.