PONDERAY — City Council members recently adopted a 2018 budget of just under $1.9 million, a small number compared to it's neighboring city of Sandpoint, which recently adopted a $40 million budget.
"I'm thankful for our city," said Mayor Steve Geiger. "We haven't spent $40 million in the last quarter-century."
Ponderay's 2018 budget, at $1,990,186, is $49,234 more than the current year's budget, and $173,848 less than the previous year.
Administrative costs are listed at $283,797, an increase of about $17,000 from the current year. The mayor and City Council budget will remain steady at $28,800. Parks and community development are wrapped into one under the planning department's budget at $412,167, down from the current year by about $153,000. The streets budget is $515,137, and the biggest portion of the budget, $750,285, belongs to the Ponderay Police Department.
The building occupied by the police department along Highway 95 was owned, until recently, by the state, said Ponderay City Clerk Su Warren. Since the building is now owned by the city, it is getting some minor improvements, with the largest project being a new carport.
The majority of the police department budget is funded through property taxes. Of the $819,015 in revenue from property taxes in the city's budget for 2018, the police department will receive $581,334. The revenue to fund the other $1,171,171 of expenditures across all departments comes from different sources, such as fees and grants.
Also during the city's Aug. 21 meeting, council members approved ballot language for a 7-percent local option tax on hotel/motel stays, which will go to voters Nov. 7. The tax would be added to bills for hotel/motel stays of less than 30 days. The city already has a 5 percent "bed tax," Warren said, so it is an increase of 2 percent over the current tax and will extend it out for eight more years.
"It does not cost our taxpayers anything unless they stay in one of the motels," Warren said.
The majority of the city's "bed tax" is used to support the Selkirk-Pend Oreille Transit bus — a not-for-profit collaborative between the cities of Dover, Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai that provides a free public bus service.
Along with a daily schedule, SPOT also provides extra transportation for large community events, such as the Festival at Sandpoint. During the Festival, SPOT transported 2,731 people over seven nights. Ridership ranged from low of 201 during the Grand Finale, and the largest number was the night before that with the George Thorogood concert with 579 rides, Warren said.
"They figure that kept at least 100 cars per night out of the neighborhood," Warren said, reading from the SPOT meeting minutes.
The SPOT schedule and information can be found online at spotbus.org.
Another item on the November ballot will be elections of two Ponderay City Council members who will serve four-year terms.
Council members are expected to attend two council meetings per month on the first and third Mondays at 6 p.m. Participation in community activities is voluntary, and council members may be asked to attend the occasional training or special meeting. Elected council members are paid a monthly salary and receive city medical, dental, vision, life and PERSI benefits.
Candidates seeking office must meet be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, and their primary residence must be within the city. The address of the candidate’s voter registration must match the residence address provided on the candidate’s declaration, and the candidate must be a resident in the city for at least 30 days prior to submitting their declaration.
Potential candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with Warren between Aug. 28 and Sept. 8. For information, contact Ponderay City Hall at 208-265-5468. Declaration of candidacy forms can be found on the city's website at cityofponderay.org.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.