Wednesday, January 16, 2013

City Council in Brief



Council approves LID, lowers assessment
Council voted to create a local improvement district on a portion of Front Avenue. Front Avenue from Second to Seventh streets and the side streets north to the alley are slated for several improvements that would bring the area in line with Sherman and Lakeside avenues. Those streets were enhanced through LIDs in the late 80s and mid-90s. The Front Avenue project will cost $2.9 million. The original proposal had the city paying 61 percent of that, leaving the rest to be absorbed by Front Avenue property owners. City staff said an assessment of $400 a front foot for property owners would make the project pencil. However, Council voted to lower that fee to $300 leaving the property owners with 29 percent of the cost and the City with 71 percent. City staff will work with that number and determine whether the scope of the project needs to be reduced or whether they can find the additional dollars elsewhere in the city budget.

Harbor House gets green light
The McEuen Park Design Team presented information to the Council regarding the size and bulk of the Harbor House, one of the many amenities identified for the park. The team also showed Council that the location of the house was carefully planned to not obstruct any view corridor to the water. The Council had concerns over the design of the Harbor House. After hearing the report, Council voted to accept the design as is without modification and thanked the Design Team for presenting the additional information.  

City to explore visioning project
The city will further explore a longer-range visioning project for how Coeur d’Alene should develop in the years to come. City Attorney Mike Gridley presented the idea to Council at its last meeting. Tuesday night, he reiterated the benefits of the community-led project. Bend, Ore. embarked on such a visioning project with success, he said. Gridley has asked Council to allocate $2,000 from the city’s Professional Services fund toward bringing in the consultant on that project to talk about the potential for such an initiative in Coeur d’Alene. It will cost a total of $6,000 to host the consultant. Coeur d’Alene undertook a visioning 20/20 project more than a decade ago. “We are now 10, 11, years down the road from that,” Gridley said. “The world has changed significantly.” Gridley said it's time to revisit Coeur d'Alene's long-range plan through the eyes of the community. He will look to raise the additional $4,000 from the community to bring in the consultant. If there is no interest, then the project will not go further, he said.

City launches social media
The city officially launched two social media sites designed to get more information out to the public and offer citizens a way to engage with the city. The city’s Facebook page can be accessed at facebook.com/cdagov and the city’s Twitter page can be found at twitter.com/cdagov.

Drainage Utility fee appears this month
City staff reminded Council that the new drainage utility fee will appear on January’s utility bill. The drainage utility was formerly called the stormwater utility. City Council resurrected the utility in December, 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 $4.13 a month and those who rely on swales for drainage will pay $3.76 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. For questions, contact 208.769.2223.