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Council briefs

by JULIE ENGLER
Whitefish Pilot | August 30, 2023 1:00 AM

WFP

By JE

The Whitefish City Council voted unanimously to adopt updated housing and rental prices, and the fee in lieu of affordable housing for the voluntary Legacy Home program at the Aug. 21 meeting.

In his report, Whitefish Housing Planner Luke Sponable said the updates were necessary to keep pace with the changing housing market.

“The fee in lieu of affordable housing is a yearly update to reflect change in the average sale price of homes in the past three years,” said Sponable. “The 2023 fee in lieu of affordable housing is now $294,349. That’s a pretty significant jump from the 2022 number of $182,274.

He said the increase reflects the change in house prices over the past three years, especially the last year. His report says the average home price and monthly rental rates increased approximately 4.8% year over year.

During public comment, Nathan Dugan said the fee in lieu of affordable housing is too low. It’s the same comment he offered last year when updates were approved.

“Even though it’s going up, it’s still too low,” said Dugan. “I think that calculation should be looked at. Two years would be a better measure.”

The council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.

WHITEFISH PUBLIC Works Director Craig Workman told the Council the rollout of animal-resistant trash bins is nearly complete. He said that meant some regulations need to be updated.

Some changes include allowing residents to contract with third party recycling contractors, requiring residents to use the animal-resistant containers and requiring the lids of those containers be securely closed with no other trash placed outside the bin.

All food scrap producing businesses need to use animal-resistant containers.

The amendments allow citizens to place their containers on the curb at 7 p.m. the night before pick up and brought back in by 7 p.m. the day of pick up. Finally, the containers are required to be placed 4 feet from any obstacles.

“If people are leaving extra trash bags to the side that Republic might be able to charge for some additional services for pick up,” said Whitefish City Attorney Angela Jacobs. “I think that might be a big disincentive for people when they start getting billed for that extra pick up.”

The ordinance amending the solid waste chapter of the city code was approved unanimously.

ADDITIONALLY, the council voted unanimously to amend the 2023 fiscal year annual budget to increase appropriations in two city funds.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Fund received additional Land Water Conservation grant funds.

“Subsequently, we made expenditures for the Armory Park master plan that exceeded the budget authority by $163,150,” Whitefish Financial Director Lanie Gospodarek said. “Similarly, the library fund received additional donations for capital improvements and making a transfer of these funds to the library depreciation fund resulted in exceeding the library fund budget authority by $20,000.”

There were no public comments and the council had no questions before they approved the resolution.