Cd'A council approves railbed purchase funds - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Cd'A council approves railbed purchase funds

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The Coeur d'Alene City Council approved funding Tuesday night to cover the cost of a 2-mile stretch of old railbed along the Spokane River corridor.

Last month, the council gave city staff permission to pursue the purchase of the property, and to develop alternatives for funding the purchase of the $2.5 million property.

At the July meeting, City Attorney Mike Gridley announced he had reached a favorable agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to purchase the property. The property was appraised at $4.3 million last fall, but Idaho's congressional delegation was able to work with the city and the railroad to get the price down.

At Tuesday's meeting, Gridley presented several options for funding the purchase, including using foregone taxes, tapping the city's rainy-day fund, using cash reserves in the city's utility fund or going for a bond election to pay for the property.

First the council settled on splitting the cost of the railbed with the Lake City Development Corporation, which has previously agreed in principal to partner with the city.

Gridley told the council that LCDC's portion of the cost would be a little more than $1.4 million and the city's portion would be $1.1 million.

After establishing that, the focus of discussion quickly turned to which funds to use for the purchase.

Acting City Administrator and Finance Director Troy Tymesen explained the pros and cons of each funding source and council honed in on two options - the rainy-day fund and cash reserves in the utility fund.

Tymesen explained that the city's goal is to have 60 days of operating revenue in the "fund balance," or rainy-day fund. That fund is projected to be roughly $4.7 million by the end of the year, which would only run the city for 52 days.

Tymesen said if the council borrowed $1.1 million from that fund, it would only leave 41 days of operating revenue in the fund.

The number of days the city can operate on that fund balance is important when going to the bond market to borrow money, he said. But Tymesen added the city isn't planning to borrow any money on the bond market until early next year, if the fire department is successful with a general obligation bond.

He said if the fund isn't replenished by then, the city could move money from the utility fund to stabilize it for a favorable bond rating.

Gridley said the annexation fees that will be collected in the river corridor could return about $970,000 to whichever fund the council chose.

Mayor Steve Widmyer said he preferred to leave the rainy-day fund intact and borrow the money from the cash reserves in the utility fund.

Councilwoman Amy Evans eventually made a motion to use the rainy-day fund primarily and other city funds if necessary to make the purchase.

After some discussion, Councilman Gookin later amended the motion to specifically use the utility fund. That motion passed unanimously.

The council also voted to allow city staff to negotiate land trades with developers to gain more public access to the Spokane River throughout the corridor.

Gridley told the council he has already begun discussions with one developer to trade a portion of the railbed that cuts through his property in exchange a for a large piece of waterfront property on the river.

In other news, the council approved a new robotics ordinance. See The Press on Thursday for more details on the story.

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  • FIy in the ointment posted at 3:23 am on Thu, Aug 7, 2014.

    FIy in the ointment Posts: 1518

    Fairness in equity. Right, Jimmy?


  • Why Not posted at 6:30 pm on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    Why Not Posts: 5326

    More positive news, win-win for the public and the city, but alas there are always a few who only

  • estatetracker posted at 2:54 pm on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    estatetracker Posts: 385

    If land "dealings" in CDA over the last few years are any indication of how this deal will play through--the City, i.e. the taxpayers, will get the shaft and in exchange the developer will get to develop another monstrosity despite the rules and opposition.

    The taxpayers in CDA lost their voice along time ago, now they are just pawns to an end result planned by very few.

  • JimmyJohn posted at 1:03 pm on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    JimmyJohn Posts: 378

    I think you are misunderstanding what is written arius1. The proposed property the city is buying is a railroad right of way, it is not river front property. The proposed trade would be to trade portions of the right of way for river front property owned by developers.

  • Miketeague posted at 11:59 am on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    Miketeague Posts: 2631

    The good, in this case the city would get the water front and the property owner gets the portion of the railbed that runs through the inland middle of his property.
    The bad, I thought gridley said it is only about 100 feet of riverfront.

  • arius1 posted at 10:40 am on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    arius1 Posts: 966

    "Gridley told the council he has already begun discussions with one developer to trade a portion of the railbed that cuts through his property in exchange a for a large piece of waterfront property on the river."

    It would be really nice if the city would keep that river front property for its residents, and not trade it off to private developement. I'm sure that the developer is getting the better end of the deal. Maybe the Press can let us know who the developer is, and what ties if any to current LCDC members, city council members, or the mayors office.

  • oscar posted at 8:17 am on Wed, Aug 6, 2014.

    oscar Posts: 1708

    Good move City Council. Any chance to gain more waterfront for residents is a positive move.

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