Adams: No on federal funding

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COEUR d'ALENE - City Councilman Steve Adams said this week he will not support any city proposal tied to federal funding.

The new councilman voted Monday against extending a grant administration contract with Panhandle Area Council that helps the city allocate federal dollars it receives each year to assist low- to moderate-income families.

Saying he was "philosophically opposed" to accepting federal money, Adams said he didn't plan to approve projects or contracts tied to national funds.

"We've taken someone else's money and decided to give it to someone else," he said of federal grants. "And the federal government's broke to begin with."

The city contracted with PAC in 2009 for grant administration services for the city's Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, program.

That federally funded program receives about $300,000 each year, and allows the city to partner in projects such as affordable housing for low-income residents.

It's a non-competitive grant, meaning the city gets an allotment every year without having to compete for it. The formula is largely population based, and completed partnership projects in Coeur d'Alene include nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul's Kathy Reed and Lynn Peterson houses.

"They've done some good things in the community," City Councilman Mike Kennedy told Adams Monday.

Adams agreed, but said the allocation seemed subjective and unfair.

"Neighbors (should) help neighbors," he said, but City Hall shouldn't be involved. "I can't support it."

Later, Adams said he wouldn't support anything tied to federal funding, stating it often came with strings attached or other financial obligations.

Troy Tymesen, city finance director, said cutting off financial revenue streams wouldn't be the recommendation from a financial director's position. Certain projects, like widening and improvement of Government Way, wouldn't be possible without the help.

The city usually collects around $3 million in federal funding a year, with which they've hired police officers and helped fund the fire department. More than $10 million in federal money is going toward upgrades to the city's wastewater treatment plant.

"I like to look at financial options," Tymesen said. "The fed is definitely a piece of the financial options."

Adams was elected to the City Council in November. He described himself on the campaign trail as a fiscal conservative who believes the city government is too big and said he would look to cut the budget.

At his first meeting in January after swearing in, fellow freshman Dan Gookin played off Adams' campaign promises and handed him a nameplate that said "Dr. No."

Adams said he appreciated Gookin's joke, still has the nameplate in his office, and doesn't mind if he gains a reputation for often voting no. He has voted against any proposal tied to the McEuen Field redesign project, as have other council members, except when he voted in favor of allowing a public advisory vote.

"I guess that's just the way it's going to be," he said. "It's going to be where Dan and I are more of the conservative mind."

Monday, Adams also voted against the city giving $43,983 for the Kootenai Transit System, which is a joint effort by multiple cities, Kootenai County, Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization and Kootenai Health that provides free public transportation, Citylink, across the region.

"I just don't think it's the proper role of the government," Adams said of providing public transportation.

He was the lone dissenting vote on both.

The PAC contract extension is a one-year extension - the final extension possible on the five-year deal. It passed the General Services Committee with a recommendation for approval, as did the transit allocation, and both go before the City Council at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Room of the Coeur d'Alene Public Library.

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