POST FALLS - Post Falls' city budget for fiscal 2013 will have no tax increase.
The budget unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday night also includes a 5 percent pay increase for all sworn police personnel along with up to a 3 percent merit hike.
Emergency communication officers will receive a 5 percent increase and all other city workers 3 percent based on merit. Department heads will not receive an increase.
The two residents who commented during the public hearing urged the council to pass a budget with no tax hike because residents are still hurting due to the economy.
"Everybody is doing more with less," resident Bob Flowers said.
The budget was helped by East Post Falls Urban Renewal District rebate funds, which will be used on one-time expenditures, not wage hikes, city administrator Eric Keck said.
Items urban renewal funds will be spent on include: updating three police cars, retrofitting a street sweeper, a street patcher, a dump truck, police camera equipment and body cameras, restroom locks and irrigation clocks.
There will be no new positions added to the city staff.
Keck advocated for a 1 percent property tax hike to allow for a cushion in future years due to heavy reliance on one-time funds this year.
Council member Ron Jacobson said he's pleased to help pass a budget with no tax increase, but he also called upon citizens to get involved in the budget process in the future because cuts to services may happen without as much one-time revenue next year.
"People say, 'Don't increase taxes.' I say, 'OK', but be willing to tell us what service you don't want because it could happen," Jacobson said. "Bear that in mind as we move forward."
Staff and the board trimmed $80,000 from the budget in the past two weeks to allow for no tax increase.
Cities are allowed to increase taxes up to 3 percent each year under law. The council took a 2 percent increase for the current budget and took no increase the previous two years.
The police wage increase was partially due to being more competitive with neighboring agencies to avoid turnover and costs to re-train new officers.
Most city employees have not had a wage increase in four years.