RATHDRUM, Idaho — The city of Rathdrum is financially stable, vibrant and safe.
Mayor Vic Holmes was pleased to announce this Thursday evening when he delivered his State of the City address, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.
A few more than a dozen people braved a snowstorm to gather in the commons of Lakeland High School for the address, during which Holmes provided an update on the rustic small town. He shared many items of good news, discussed a few challenges and fielded questions from attendees before the evening concluded.
One of the issues he discussed is affecting every community in North Idaho — population growth.
"What is Rathdrum doing? Well, we've been growing," he said. "Growth is almost never popular, everybody likes things to stay the same."
He admitted he has been accused of being pro-growth, "but I actually hate it," he said, but he is pro-fair and pro-U.S. Constitution.
"The last thing on Earth we want is the government telling us where we can and can't live, and that's really up to the market to decide, and what people want," he said.
In 2019, 119 building permits were issued in Rathdrum. In 2020, 288 were issued, plus 50 multi-family unit permits. In 2021 it was 185 building permits, plus 18 duplexes. In 2022, 164 single-family, 20 duplexes and 252 apartment building permits were issued, Holmes reported.
"In my mind, we're trending in the wrong direction," he said. "We used to be a single-family residence city."
He said the benefit of single family is ownership, which apartments don't provide.
"I wish we could get back to single family," he said, adding that would require some work.
"It's a balancing act," he said. "If we're not careful, we will become Sun Valley. I talked to the mayor of Sun Valley some months back, and he described Sun Valley this way: 'Sun Valley is a place where really rich old people live with their parents.'"
A record number of commercial permits were filed in Rathdrum this year as well, including big-ticket companies such as Kootenai Electric ($34 million); Meyer Storage ($8.9 million); and Montana Sash and Door ($1.9 million). Rathdrum is also working on creating highway and industrial districts.
That being said, Holmes pointed out that although it feels like Rathdrum has boomed as of late, only 6% of growth from annexed properties took place after 2000.
"Most of the property that is currently in the city of Rathdrum was annexed in the '70s and '80s," he said.
Holmes praised the Rathdrum Parks and Recreation Department for its work providing an abundance of activities throughout the year for community members of all ages to enjoy.
He also praised the good work of the Rathdrum Police Department, which has earned local and statewide accolades for individuals and the department as a whole.
"For a city our size, we're extremely lucky" to have 24/7 law enforcement, Holmes said.
He also gave a shout-out to the Rathdrum Public Works Department, which completed several projects this year, including improvements at the State Highway 53-Meyer Road intersection and an update to the city's transportation master plan.
"These are the unsung heroes," Holmes said. "Public works guys show up at 3 in the morning, climb down ladders and staircases into lift stations … We need to thank them."
The department is working on a $2.5 million roundabout project at Meyer and Boekel Road, which is expected to break ground in March 2023 and be completed that November. Future capital improvement projects include the installation of a roundabout at the Meyer and Lancaster Road intersection, an elevated water storage tank on the Rathdrum Prairie and a lift station in western Rathdrum for business development.
These projects are being funded with grant money or have funding sources in the works, Holmes reported, giving Rathdrum the debt-free advantage.
Holmes said the city's goal is and always has been to create a self-sustaining community where people can live, work, play and shop.
"We're getting there," he said.
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