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Posted on: September 6, 2018

Upcoming budget meetings open to public

There are several upcoming opportunities for members of the public to provide input before the City of Minot budget for 2019 is approved.

The City Council will hold a special public hearing on Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Council chambers for the budget’s first reading. Another special Council meeting will be held Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Council chambers to approve the 2019 budget on second reading. All meetings are open to the public.

In August, Minot City Manager Tom Barry presented the City Council with a $179,931,375 million preliminary budget for 2019. The proposed 2019 budget calls for 129.26 mills. Property taxes account for only 14.79 percent of the proposed 2019 budget.

The mill increase from the 2018 mill levy of 106.65 is driven almost exclusively by two factors: slightly lower property valuations of about 3% (3.37 mills) and shifting sales tax collection back to the Northwest Area Water Supply project (19.43 mills). The estimated mill value is $205,920.

Collections for the Northwest Area Water Supply project through the City’s sales tax was halted in 2011 after Minot residents voted overwhelmingly to temporarily discontinue the collection for the project and move the future collections to a Community Facilities Grant, Property Tax Relief, and Infrastructure Improvements until the project resumed following litigation. Work on NAWS can now continue and the previous $30 million collected is no longer sufficient to fund the local share of the project due to new requirements set forth by the court.

The NAWS project cleared a legal hurdle in August 2017 when a federal court ruled the project could move forward. The rule required that a new water treatment facility be constructed near Max; that facility is currently under design. To help cover the City’s portion of future NAWS costs, the 40% of Minot’s second penny of sales tax will be committed to NAWS rather than community facilities projects. That money had been previously used to reduce property taxes, and the change means an increase of more than $4 million or 19.43 mills to the proposed 2019 budget. The spending on NAWS makes up roughly 80 percent of the proposed mill levy increase for the 2019 proposed budget.

The 2019 preliminary budget will affect individual property owners differently. In 2018, the median home value was $182,000; the projected median for 2019 is $178,000. The homeowner within the City of Minot with a home valued at $178,000 would see an increase of approximately $161.91, or $13.50 per month, if the proposed 2019 budget is approved. The total impact to a homeowner with a home priced at the average would be about 6%, including all taxing agencies (Ward County, City of Minot, Minot Park District, Minot Public School District).

Capital improvement projects continue to be delayed. To be most effective and to protect street surfaces, typical street maintenance should be scheduled every five years. Minot has extended the maintenance schedule for a number of projects throughout the City. Some street maintenance has been pushed to more than 15 years between jobs. The 2019 budget includes $4 million for street maintenance, well below what’s needed to keep street maintenance on schedule.

The proposed 2019 budget includes no changes to the sanitation, cemetery, water, or transit bus rates. Monthly flat rates for sewer would rise from $6.52 to $7.04, while sewer usage rates would rise from $2.77 to $2.99 per 100 cubic feet. The average residential customer would see an increase of $3.16 per month in their sewer bill.

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