Multiple topics addressed in busy city council meeting

BONNERS FERRY — Grants that could help local businesses were among the items City Council discussed during a busy meeting Tuesday night.

The Economic Development Coordinator, Dennis Weed, shared information about upcoming availability of Restaurant Revitalization grants via the U.S. Small Business Administration through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The relief funds are grants, not loans, and Weed said the initial rollout will prioritize applications from restaurant owners who fit certain criteria, specifically women, veterans and socially or economically disadvantaged individuals will receive priority in the first 21 days of the rollout. Weed added he would be sending information out to local restaurants in the near future.

There were also several discussions about unexpected expenses and repairs for different departments.

One of the police department’s vehicles is in need of a new transmission and discussion revolved around the value of repairing versus replacing. The city mechanic stated that the vehicle, a 2013 Chevy Tahoe, has needed multiple repairs in the past and that the cost of current repairs, approximately $4,000, would be more than the vehicle is worth. City council ultimately decided to replace the Tahoe with a used 2016 Dodge Charger that Bonner Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman found for around $8,000.

There was also a brief discussion about the shortage of police vehicles with Zimmerman saying that three officers are sharing two vehicles.

The next item on the agenda was a 2013 John Deere fairway mower for the golf course. Previously, the council had approved repair costs of around $3,500 for the mower. The city mechanic reported that they discovered additional issues with the mower and repair costs would end up being around $16,000, including the previously approved $3,500.

City Council was presented with some purchase options for a more heavy duty used mower with a price tag of around $20,000. When asked, golf course manager Ralph Lotspeich said, regarding the current mower, “you always say nickel and dime but this is more 25 and 50 cent things going wrong,” and recommended purchasing the used mower. The council decided to table the discussion until Lotspeich was able to present them with a few more purchase options for the used mower in an attempt to reduce interest costs of the loan.

Finally, there was a discussion about a new transmission for a Water Department 1989 Kenworth dump truck. Repair costs would be approximately $5,000, including parts and labor. It was a short discussion and quickly approved by the city council.

City Administrator Lisa Ailport also shared that Bonners Ferry would be receiving an estimated $540,000 from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act. There was a brief discussion about using some of the money for broadband infrastructure, but Ailport stressed that they still needed to clarify the specifics of what the money can and cannot be used for and said that they would be working with the Association of Idaho Cities and Strategies 360 to learn more about requirements and restrictions.

There was also a brief discussion about a possible electric department rate increase later in the year. There will be an electric department cost of service rate update conducted before any decisions are made.

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