COEUR d'ALENE - Four new police cars, two front loaders for the street department, and a cash reserve set aside for construction on the McEuen Field redevelopment project.
Oh - and raises for 300-plus city employees.
The city of Coeur d'Alene is proposing a $77.97 million budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 - slightly higher than this year's $77.91 million financial plan - which includes a number of capital purchases, project plans and 3 percent increases for all employees.
However, the plan would not include a property tax increase.
"I'm very pleased to be able to come forward with this budget," said Finance Director Troy Tymesen on the plan that reinstates the full contractual COLA raise for the first time in three years.
If it's approved, the pay increase would equal $628,000 spread out over 353.5 full-time equivalent positions.
Two years ago, the city negotiated with its three unions to forego a COLA increase with the condition that the city avoid layoffs, which it did.
Citing employee morale, the city last year found a little wiggle room in personnel expenses to offer a 1 percent increase.
This year, money from new growth as well as managing staff positions, among other avenues, helped the city find money for raises. It did consider a negative public reaction on the timing of the proposed increases - unemployment in Kootenai County is around 11 percent - during the budgeting process, but wanted to make good on the union contracts.
"We wanted to do everything we could to own up to the agreements in place," Tymesen said.
The budget isn't official. It will go before the City Council for adoption in the first week of September. The City Council will get a closer look at the numbers at 5:30 tonight during a workshop in Old Council Chambers at City Hall. The $77.9 million total, up for approval tonight, would hit the high-water mark, meaning as the city still works through the budget it can't exceed that number, although it could end up with something below it.
Citizens contacted by The Press on Wednesday had a mixed reaction to the proposed pay increases. Some, like Patrick Fee, said it doesn't matter one way or the other, while others thought the timing seemed off.
"It's just a little ridiculous to cut everything and then give raises," said Ron Smith, a resident for eight years who is satisfied with city services overall but not with pay increases now. "They shouldn't do any raises as long as we're cutting all around."
There has been a reduction in staff over the years from a city payroll stance, officials said.
The 353.5 proposed full-time equivalent positions in 2012 is up .87 positions from the current plan. However, three years ago the city had 363 positions. Taking into account four positions now funded by federal grants in the police department, the city has cut back 14 positions from its payroll.
"We were able to manage the staffing as the economy was changing," Tymesen said, adding that the city didn't add staff as the economy shot up around 2006.
New growth should give the city $345,000 in new property taxes. The city also expects to save $316,000 in dropped services and supplies.
The police cars and front loaders are pieces the city has had to cross off previous budgets from lack of revenue. Appearing this year for the first time are a pair of McEuen Field related projects for which the city is ready to set aside money. Slated in the plan is $240,000 in special funds for a possible baseball complex at Cherry Hill Park. The site has been identified as a possible replacement location for the American Legion baseball field, which will move from its McEuen Field home as the park undergoes transformation. The Eagles club owns the land near Cherry Hill, and the city is setting aside $52,000 for a possible deal.
It's also slotting $2.6 million in urban renewal money for construction on McEuen Field.
Per state statute, the city is allowed to seek up to a 3 percent property tax increase from the year before. Two years ago, it did not increase property taxes. The current year's budget includes a 1.5 percent increase.
The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.