POST FALLS - Post Falls is preparing for takeoff.
City Council President Ron Jacobson and City Administrator Shelly Enderud on Tuesday presented the State of the City address on behalf of Mayor Clay Larkin, who is battling laryngitis.
While there's still a ways to go in the economic recovery and the budget remains tight, city officials expect gradual positive signs to continue in 2013.
The city has issued 784 building permits this year compared to 655 in 2011.
"It's encouraging to see that permits are up from last year," Jacobson said during the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce's lunch at Red Lion Templin's Hotel. "The local economy is beginning to recover."
The city is developing a strategic plan to help it make decisions on spending, investments, services and daily operations.
The goal is to ensure the city is meeting citizens' expectations.
Planning manager Hilary Anderson's job has been expanded to include economic development efforts to work with businesses interested in moving to Post Falls and help existing businesses grow.
With the recent opening of the Interstate 90 interchange at Beck Road, the city's west side is bound to see more business activity, city officials say.
The city has issued more than 150 new commercial and home occupation business licenses this year. Among the businesses to be built in 2013 is the 30-bed Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest, a joint effort of Ernest Health and Kootenai Health that is expected to create more than 100 jobs.
On the wastewater front, the city expects to receive its draft permit to discharge wastewater to the Spokane River in January. The permit, aimed at making the river cleaner, will be available for public comment. A master plan to meet the water quality standards has been developed.
The city's highlights in 2012 included:
* passing a budget with no tax increase;
* a new roundabout intersection at Poleline and Idaho;
* reconstruction of Mullan Avenue;
* park and recreation master plan developed;
* Park in the Meadows completed;
* a suicide awareness program and Honor Guard created within the police department;
* a new police dog (Andor) added; and
* 3,000 trees given to residents.
"With reduced revenues and increasing costs, it has been difficult to balance our city budget without sacrificing services our citizens have come to expect," Enderud said. "But despite these challenges, we have accomplished much and have much to be proud of."
Knudtsen Chevrolet, Jones honored
POST FALLS - Knudtsen Chevrolet and Mark Jones, who works with youth on community projects, received Mayor's Community Service Awards on Tuesday.
Since Knudtsen broke ground in Post Falls a decade ago, the company has participated in several community events and projects. Owner Eve Knudtsen will serve as the chairwoman of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce in 2013.
Jones spearheads multiple community efforts involving youth, including food drives, a community garden and organizing volunteers at events and for nonprofits. The projects are aimed at building character and confidence in youth. Jones also assists with a local sled hockey team for disabled veterans.