Big projects rule LCDC budget - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Big projects rule LCDC budget

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - McEuen Park, Midtown, and maybe even an event center.

Lake City Development Corp's fiscal year 2014 budget proposes to keep paying for big projects under way, like McEuen Park, sets placeholders for stalled ones, like Midtown, and keeps an eye on future endeavors by setting aside cash for potential ones.

The latter example would be rebuilding the Four Corners area in downtown Coeur d'Alene, for which LCDC is setting aside at least $800,000.

LCDC is also penciling in $103,000 for planning a potential event center in Riverstone - a proposal for which the urban renewal agency has already pledged $10 million.

In all, the fiscal year 2014 calls for LCDC to spend $12.2 million while bringing in $13 million in revenue. LCDC is planning on beginning the fiscal year, Sept. 1, with $3.7 million in hand.

While LCDC has pledged $10 million for a possible event center in Riverstone, it doesn't comprise a bulk of potential future spending - at least not yet.

The event center has received the most publicity, but North Idaho College - the entity pitching the center - has a lot to do before it can capitalize on LCDC's pledge. That work includes raising $5 million on its own, and locating a spot for the arena inside LCDC's River District.

If the college can get the work done and make a formal request to LCDC, the urban renewal agency can amend its budget to reflect its pledge, LCDC Executive Director Tony Berns said.

In the meantime, LCDC will pencil in $103,000 for planning purposes only.

"The ball is in NIC's court on this initiative at this time," Berns said in an email Tuesday to The Press. "If the project proceeds, and the LCDC Board agrees to formally support the project at the $10 million level, then the fiscal year 2014 River district budget will need to be amended."

But the agency is setting aside funds for another downtown project, known as The Four Corners.

The area, which runs from the Coeur d'Alene Chamber building on Northwest Boulevard up through the old abandoned railroad line parallel the Spokane River to Riverstone, has been on Kootenai County, Coeur d'Alene and other officials' radar for years.

They've wanted to maximize the public space throughout the sprawling downtown corridor. Officials have brought the issue back to the forefront, and meetings are scheduled with different stakeholders later this summer.

Doug Eastwood, city parks director, said he plans to make a formal request to LCDC for master planning for the Four Corners area in October.

LCDC, for its part, is budgeting $700,000 to go toward rebuilding the area, and $100,000 for planning purposes to help spearhead any possible reconstruction. It's also setting aside $40,000 to demolish three properties it owns at 618, 620 and 622 Park Avenue.

The properties near the education corridor could be converted to public property for the expansion of the Four Corners and education corridor neighborhoods, although planning hasn't happened yet.

LCDC collects its revenue through tax increment financing inside its two urban renewal districts, but it is not a taxing entity. It used the 2012 levy rates to determine the estimated tax increment revenues.

For the tax year 2012, the Lake District experienced a $7 million property valuation increase, and a $10 million increase inside the River District prior to any potential change made by the Kootenai County Board of Equalization.

The proposed budget calls for a $6.8 million bond draw on the $16.75 million Washington Trust Bank line of credit the agency took on to pay for the bulk of the McEuen Park project. That draw would exhaust the line of credit, but the budget also calls for paying $2 million back on the debt. LCDC has already made a $2 million payment on the line of credit.

The WTB line of credit and McEuen Park project was a major reason the agency anticipates hitting $18 million in expenditures for the current fiscal year, more than next year's $12.2 million.

The upcoming year also calls for a number of administrative expenses, including a 3 percent raise for Berns, which equates to about $3,846 on his $128,200 salary.

It also keeps professional contract services for its accounting, legal counsel, external audit, community relations and government relations.

It budgets $46,000 for parking improvements associated with Fourth Street and Midtown. Plans on a proposed mix-use, affordable housing project in Midtown stalled around a year ago, but Berns said LCDC would still be a willing partner for a potential project there.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is 4 p.m. today in the Community Room of the Coeur d'Alene Public Library.

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  • thedude posted at 10:03 pm on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    thedude Posts: 10

    Actually it was the unfunded pension liabilities that crushed Stockton, CA. The city even issued bonds to try to meet the pension obligations it couldn't afford in the short term, somehow figuring the pension fairy would sort it out in the future. Chicago recently had its credit rating downgraded several notches because of unfunded pension liablities. Just because a government promises something doesn't mean it can break the laws of physics and economics and deliver it.

  • cd1013 posted at 4:43 pm on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    cd1013 Posts: 249

    I hope the new mayor and city council have the backbone and guts to put an end to the LCDC and redirect these taxes to projects that truly need funding.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 7:16 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    "Officials have brought the issue back to the forefront, and meetings are scheduled with different stakeholders later this summer."

    And just who are these "STAKEHOLDERS"?

    "LCDC collects its revenue through tax increment financing inside its two urban renewal districts, but it is not a taxing entity. "

    No, it is not a "TAXING ENTITY." HOWEVER the LCDC is given the uncontrolled escalating portion of new taxes within the district caused by the growth. The never ending tax hikes forces community members to sell their property when they can no longer afford to keep up with the taxes. And where do these taxes, uh, I mean, free money that just appears out of nowhere go? Look at the first sentence in my post. The already "WEALTHY DEVELOPER STAKEHOLDERS."

  • Intrepid posted at 7:12 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    Intrepid Posts: 1057

    Every penny of this is tax dollars not being spent to support the community but to enrich developers. Notice the pace of the spending. The cities budget is being leveraged for decades to come. Not only are current taxes not being used for citizens, they are seeing to it that it will remain this way for the foreseeable future.

  • voxpop posted at 6:29 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    ANYONE who thinks LCDC is anything other than a way for downtown business special interests to steal taxpayer funding to pump up their bottom line is not paying attention. I don't live in Cda proper but I can't help but wonder how much of what LCDC spends comes out of the county budget, and just try to get an answer to that question. You certainly won't get the Cda Press to investigate. That would be self-defeating, wouldn't it.

  • Peter posted at 6:17 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    Peter Posts: 691

    I do like the beautification projects going on, but I have to say that I am uncomfortable how fast they are spending on this town. I certainly do not want cda to end up like Stockton, CA. They overspent on a lot of projects simillar to what LCDC is spending on and when they declared bankruptcy they blamed public employees and their pensions on the citiy's situation. It was the city's reckless spending that got them into their mess not public employees. Hope they are mindful with what they are doing...

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