Cd'A passes financial plan

New draft trimmed about $1 million from previous figure

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COEUR d'ALENE - It's approved.

The city of Coeur d'Alene adopted its $72.7 million fiscal year 2013 budget Tuesday, passing the plan four votes to three.

The newer draft trims around $1 million from the high-water proposal that the City Council adopted a month ago.

Besides the property tax reduction, the budget took away the 3 percent cost of living increases for the city's 348 full-time equivalent positions. Negotiations are still ongoing with the three bargaining agencies, City Finance Director Troy Tymesen said, but two of the three have verbally agreed to take a 0 percent increase.

"The groups have been very cooperative. I don't want to take anything away from that," Tymesen said. "They've always done what they said they would do."

The budget also includes $65,000 for a contracted communications position where a part-time contractor would share city information in a variety of print and online mediums. Around $45,000 of it would be for wages.

A motion by City Councilman Dan Gookin to remove the position from the budget - as well as several other line items like $16,000 for East Sherman Avenue -failed four votes to three before the budget was approved by the same tally.

"We need to get facts out to the public," Mayor Sandi Bloem said on the need for the communications position, pointing to topics like the McEuen Field project that were constantly being discussed around the community for more than a year.

Any other $70 million enterprise or business has a communications position, and the city should too, she said, especially since a retiring employee used to handle some of the communications load. "We need to sell our product every single day," Bloem said.

Council members Steve Adams and Gookin opposed the budget in part for the 2 percent property tax raise. Councilman Ron Edinger didn't support it because of money in it allocated toward the McEuen Field project.

Council members Mike Kennedy, Woody McEvers and Deanna Goodlander approved the budget, and Bloem split the tie, as she has done all year since the council divided after the November election.

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