Resolution sought on infrastructure

SANDPOINT — City officials are working to ensure they get all the agreed-upon improvements from the county in connection with the sheriff’s office and new juvenile detention facility.

Bonner County Commissioners Mike Nielsen and Cornel Rasor visited the City Council’s regular meeting Wednesday to discuss a timetable for the completion of final improvements — including sidewalks, trees, and curbs. According to Nielsen, the costs of these improvements exceeded expectations, and with escalating courthouse costs leaving the county strapped for cash, the project likely couldn’t go forward until commissioners start a new budgeting process.

“I’m sorry this issue has protracted itself over three or four boards, but I’ll do my best to ensure it ends on my watch,” Nielsen said.

An issue that city officials have wanted to see completed for many years, the projects will provide infrastructure for a developing area of the region.

However, the costs associated with renovations and asbestos cleanup in the courthouse have spiraled far beyond expectations, with Nielsen predicted a final price tag of more than $6 million. That leaves precious little money available for other projects.

“We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Nielsen said.

However, city officials replied that the county had already been granted extensions on the improvements and wanted some guarantee that the items would be included in the 2014 budget planning. That provided complications for Nielsen, who will have two new colleagues in Joyce Broadsword and Cary Kelly next year. Nielsen told council members he could promise to push the matter hard and impress the incoming commissioners of its importance but couldn’t guarantee anything else.

“All I can give you is my word, and my word is my bond,” he said.

Cornel Rasor also attended the meeting in support of Nielsen. He offered his commitment to seeing the improvements on the books as well.

“Even though I’m a lame duck, I’ll do everything I can to facilitate this,” he said.

Council members ultimately decided to table the matter after City Attorney Scot Campbell suggested they could use a local improvement district — or LID — as a means to obligate the county’s cooperation. City and county staff will examine this and other possible solutions before local officials make a final decision.

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