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Interim City Manager David Lakefield and department heads answered multiple questions from members of the City Council during a budget question-and-answer session at the Aug. 17 City Council meeting.
The City of Minot’s proposed budget for 2021 does not include any tax increases. The preliminary 2021 budget stands at $143.5 million, a 47.48 percent reduction from the record $273.3 million budget for 2020. The 2020 mill levy of 121.29 is expected to remain the same for 2021.
“Certainly there’s a tremendous amount of information here, and I know some phone calls have been made to department heads for answers, but this is an opportunity for anyone on the council to gather information on any line items or any other areas,” Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said.
While the overall budget looks dramatically lower, there are reasons for the decline in the overall budget, notably a decline in large capital projects and a change in the way expenses are represented in the budget. Although the City continues to fund the ongoing flood protection project and the Northwest Area Water Supply project, the money for those projects is no longer included in the city budget at the recommendation of auditors, according to Lakefield. Those figures had been included in the 2020 budget. Much of that money goes directly to pay contractors, and the city doesn’t see much of those funds.
The proposed 2021 budget includes three new positions:
Lakefield said sales tax collections have been unpredictable. The city anticipates that each penny of sales tax will collect $8.5 million in 2021, compared to $10 million in the past.
The Council has scheduled a public hearing on the 2021 budget at the City Council meeting on Sept. 8. The mayor encouraged members of the public who want to ask questions or gather information about the 2021 budget to appear at the Sept. 8 meeting, which is when the proposed budget is scheduled to be passed on first reading. The budget must also be approved on second reading.
The final budget must be approved by Oct. 10.