Wednesday, December 5, 2012

City Council in Brief

Updates and actions from the Dec. 4 City Council meeting

Council reinstates stormwater fee

City Council resurrected Coeur d’Alene’s stormwater utility, allowing the city to once again collect fees to provide drainage services to property owners. Council opted for minimal user fees. Residents served by pipes will pay $3.67 a month and those who rely on swales for drainage will pay $4.13 a month. The city stopped collecting fees in 2011 while it evaluated the service and reviewed a legal challenge of Lewiston’s stormwater utility, which was similar to Coeur d’Alene’s. A primary function of a stormwater program is that the utility, for a fee, takes on the individual property owners’ responsibility for stormwater and regulatory compliance. Stormwater must meet federal, state, and local regulations. The fee, effective immediately, only applies to property owners that use the utility. Those who handle their own drainage on their property will not be charged.

Public hearing set for proposed water rate increase

Council set a public hearing and the adoption of new water rates and user fees for Jan. 2. Existing customers would see a modest increase of 2.50 percent starting March 2013. That fee would rise to 4.90 in 2014 and hold steady each year until 2018. New users would see an increase in capitalization feesFor a typical residential user, the one-time fee would increase $407. The Water Department relies on user fees to fund all of its operations and does not receive funding from taxes. The increase in fees will support $11.5 million in project costs that are part of the Department’s Capital Improvement Plan over the next six years.  Read more

Council considers forming local improvement district on Front Avenue

Council members unanimously gave city staff the nod to proceed with the first steps in forming a local improvement district to beautify a portion of Front Avenue from 2nd to 7th streets and on the side streets to the alley. Improvement to Front Avenue has been part of larger effort to enhance the downtown streetscape, starting with Sherman Avenue and then Lakeside. Both underwent improvements under a LID (Sherman in 1989 and Lakeside in 1995). A LID supports city funding through a property assessment. The city needs $2.9 million to improve the street, sidewalk and landscape on Front Avenue. It would pay slightly more than half of that cost with the rest coming from property owners. Assessment details will be addressed at the Dec. 18 Council meeting, at which time a public hearing will be set for Jan. 2Read more

Council briefed on levee recertification

City Engineer Gordon Dobler updated the Council on efforts to recertify the Dike Road levee, a process that so far has involved a series of repairs and maintenance to the 1.5-mile stretch between Harbor Center and Independence Point. The city will contract with a third-party engineering firm to finish evaluating the levee. City officials hope the evaluation will show that at least some mature trees along Rosenberry Drive can remain. “I don’t want to make a lot of promises, but I’m hopeful we have some avenue” to save the trees, Dobler said. The entire recertification process will likely take a total of three to four years. 

City updates

McEuen Park: On Dec. 27, City Council and the McEuen Design Team will hold a 90% completion workshop on McEuen Park at the Parkview Towers, 3rd Floor at 7:30 a.m. Progress reports have been given at 30% and 60% milestones. The public is invited to attend.

Person Field: City staff is encouraged by discussions with the Coeur d’Alene School District to acquire the district’s portion of the field. The city currently owns the other half of the field. No decisions have been made, but the staff is working to make the acquisition happen.