COEUR d'ALENE - The East Side Highway District commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to approve three local improvement districts in Coeur d'Alene and Harrison, totaling more than half a million dollars.
The LIDs will be used to match one-time federal funds for road overlays.
"It's a very difficult decision for all commissioners to have to do something like this," said Commissioner Jimmie Dorsey. "But it was very crucial to the preservation of the working roads in our district."
The vote was made at a commissioners' meeting at the district office on Mullan Avenue. This was after the officials collected testimony on the LIDs at public hearings on Saturday, where about 50 attended each LID presentation.
The commissioners' decision is surprising after so many residents testified that they did not want to fund the LIDs, said Lorna Casey-Kaiser, who would have to contribute to an LID on Sunnyside Road in Coeur d'Alene.
"They did not care about what the people said," she said. "The whole attitude is, 'We're going to do this and there's nothing you can do.'"
The commissioners approved a $162,000 LID for an overlay on 2.2 miles of Sunnyside Road in Coeur d'Alene; a $159,000 LID for an overlay on roughly 2.4 miles on Burma Road in Harrison; and a $248,000 LID for an overlay on 6 miles on O'Gara Road in Harrison.
The LIDs will be funded by property owners who benefit from the improvements.
Dorsey said the office is considering expanding LIDs to include more property owners.
"That would mean each person would have a reduction," he said.
He added that the LIDs could be subject to county review, if the office has received enough letters of protest from affected property owners.
There must be protest letters from 60 percent of resident owners in an LID, or two-thirds of the number of parcels, to warrant county review, Dorsey said.
Office staff predicts the letters will be counted by the end of the week or early next week.
Currently, 133 property owners would participate in the O'Gara LID. Contributors would have to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,700 total over several years, depending on the lot.
The Burma project would be funded by 139 property owners, with a contribution range of $400 to $1,500.
The Sunnyside LID affects 430 property owners, who would have to pay between $200 and $400 total.
Coeur d'Alene resident Keith Lund said he isn't excited about contributing $400 for the Sunnyside project.
"I'm completely dissatisfied with their decision," Lund said. "It would negatively affect me. It's money I don't have right now."
He added that he isn't sure that section of Sunnyside needs an overlay.
"I don't think it's at the top of the list of what needs to be addressed," he said.
Casey-Kaiser added that she and some other residents are investigating how to get the commissioners out of office before their next election in May.
"If we can," she said. "We can't believe they're imposing this on us."
The projects have been on the highway district's capital improvement plan for years, Dorsey said.
The total costs of the three projects have been estimated at: $964,314 for Sunnyside Road; $925,615 for Burma Road; and $2,045,000 for O'Gara Road.
Although Dorsey said previously that 88 percent of the projects will be covered by federal funds, he said on Monday that isn't true for all three projects. More than 80 percent of each project will be paid for with federal funds, he said.
Construction would start next building season.
After the projects are completed, property owners can pay their contributions up front, or over the course of several years.
"I think everybody will see the benefit when it's done," Dorsey said.