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The Minot City Council’s budget question and answer session as part of the Council’s regular meeting on Aug. 19 was the next step in approving the budget for 2020.
Members of the City Council took the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed 2020 budget, seeking details or clarifications from City Manager Tom Barry or the department heads who were present.
One significant discussion involved the construction of a fifth fire station in Minot. Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel presented information about the request to fund the station that would be located in the northwest part of the city, just off Fourth Avenue.
Kronschnabel and Barry reported to the Council that an additional three personnel will be needed to bring Fire Station #5 online by using a new minimum staffing approach that would shift firefighters from other stations to the new station, while maintaining the necessary personnel to meet National Fire Protection Association standards.
The new station would be operational in June 2021 under the current plan. The cost would be covered by Hub city funds and reserve funds from the City.
The presentation of the preliminary 2020 budget to the full City Council is the first step in a long process before the budget becomes official; the question and answer session on Aug. 19 was the second step.
There are several steps remaining:
The preliminary budget for 2020 was $275 million, a $95 million increase over the 2019 budget due to committed expenses. But the City’s mill levy for the 2019 budget was 129.23 mills, while the proposed 2020 budget will drop that mill levy to 121.29. That’s because, in April, the City’s Recreation and Auditorium Department was transferred to Minot Park District, which reduced the City’s levy by nearly 8 mills. Consequently, the City’s property tax portion will be reduced by approximately 6 percent in 2020.
What is the additional $95 million for in the preliminary budget?
While a $95 million budget increase looks daunting, in reality, less than half of that total is actually coming from the City; $55 million will come from federal and state funding sources for capital projects. In regard to the $40 million in City money, the City has been allocating money for specific projects for years, and now those funds have to be put into the budget in order for the City to spend them for the designated purposes. Projects like flood control and the Northwest Area Water Supply have a local cost share of 35 percent, which is solely funded by local sales taxes.