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An appreciation for Susan Nicosia

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | June 26, 2024 6:30 AM


Last Monday marked city manager Susan Nicosia’s last full meeting with the Columbia Falls city council.

I have to admit, with a huge grin on my face, that for a while there I thought we were going to get an extensive report on the upcoming city budget. 

Nicosia’s budget reports were nothing but thorough, but had a tendency to run on the long side, sometimes well into the night.

Having said that, I’ve learned the ins and outs of city government and government in general from Nicosia over the years, just by watching and listening to her work. I can say with a great degree of confidence that the city had a fantastic and knowledgeable public servant throughout her tenure and she will be missed.

Of course, we didn’t always see eye to eye, but then again, if the editor of a newspaper agrees with a city manager on every point, then the newspaper guy probably isn’t doing a very good job.

Nicosia’s tenure will be marked with a host of notable accomplishments. 

It wasn’t long ago that Nucleus Avenue used to be a storage site for antiques, now it’s a vibrant business hub. One might say that’s the doing of businessman Mick Ruis, but keep in mind, the city is the one that sets the stage for renewal and Nicosia was the driving force behind a lot of it, with the support of the city council and mayor. 

Today we have a resort tax that not only lowers city property taxes, but also has greatly bolstered our police force . It also pays for a fire department that responds to calls in just a few minutes.

We have a tax increment financing district that pays for critical projects in and around downtown without dipping into city coffers and we have the Cedar Creek Trust, a $1 million-plus pot of cash the city can borrow from without having to pay high interest rates through banks.

The city will soon reap the benefits of a $10 million-plus federal grant to rebuild 13th Street West and Fourth Avenue West, thanks to Nicosia. There are many other grants she’s garnered over the years that make Columbia Falls a better place. 

Another recent one is a federal grant that will pay for the bulk of a city sewer plant upgrade, which helps keep our rates down.

Nearly all of these accomplishments have been done behind the scenes, with little credit. 

Unfortunately what many see about city government is blather on social media from ignorant people who have never darkened the door of city hall, never mind actually sat through a meeting.

Nicosia will be missed, by myself and many others who have a greater understanding of how small city government is supposed to work.