RATHDRUM — Residents will be hiking on city-owned Rathdrum Mountain property as early as this fall.
Rathdrum Mayor Vic Holmes updated the effort to develop a portion of the city’s 540-acre site into low-impact recreation opportunities during his State of the City address on Thursday at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church.
"I've asked staff to do whatever it takes for people to be able to walk up there this fall," Holmes told about 60 attendees at the Chamber of Commerce lunch. "Before this snow fell, we widened Barrett Road, so we're that much closer to paving it."
The project, which will be developed in phases, is being funded with timber sales from the site and will not raise taxes.
City Administrator Leon Duce said two parking lots are being designed.
"We're trying to figure out what we can afford and hopefully we'll get to one of the two parking lots in early summer with the ultimate goal of people being able to use the site this fall," Duce said.
In addition to trails and picnic areas, one idea is to have a sledding area.
"I believe the mountain will be a regional draw," said Holmes, who is starting his 10th year as mayor.
One of the attendees asked for the status on the urban renewal agency Rathdrum is forming.
Holmes said a board has been selected and will likely meet for the first time in April to hear the basics of urban renewal from a consultant.
"There are people who hate (urban renewal) and people who love it," Holmes said. "I believe it's been reeled in to the point where I have full confidence in it."
Urban renewal districts created by the city and administered by the urban renewal agency have a base tax rate when the district is created. That base tax rate continues to be collected by the county and remitted to taxing entities over the life of the district. As a district is improved, has new construction and increases in value due to improvements, the incremental tax created by those improvements in excess of the base tax is given to the URA to pay for the public improvements that have been made within the district.
Holmes said the city is proud it hasn't had to raise taxes 2 percent or the maximum allowed of 3 percent for at least nine years. It had no increase in each of the past two fiscal years.
Those numbers were a relief to Joe Hume, who owns the F1 for Help computer repair business.
"I believe the city has managed growth well and there's great schools here," said Hume, who has lived in Rathdrum 12 years. "I absolutely love it here. It has a nice small-town feel."
Other State of the City points included:
• A record 149 single-family home permits were issued in 2016, surpassing 84 during the boom of 2007.
"I remember wondering in 2007 if we'd ever grow like that again and in 2008 and 2009 if we'd ever grow," Holmes said. "This year we're even starting out at a faster pace than last year."
• Total calls for police service increased from 6,039 in 2015 to 6,436 last year, while misdemeanor arrests declined from 125 to 123 and felony arrests increased from 33 to 35.
Police Chief Tomi McLean said she thinks the stats are up in some areas due to growth and the department keeping more records.
• One of the most successful community events was Trunk or Treat, attended by roughly 2,000 people. Residents distributed candy to kids from the trunks of their show vehicles.
"You couldn't hardly walk down Main Street," Holmes said. "I have never seen a such turnout in Rathdrum for anything."