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Fargo city commissioners pass preliminary budget

Commissioners unanimously passed Mayor Tim Mahoney's motion to approve the city's 2023 Preliminary Budget. The budget is down $10 million from the approved 2022 budget

Fargo City Hall file.jpg
Fargo City Hall in downtown Fargo, June 18, 2021
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — The Fargo City Commission unanimously passed Mayor Tim Mahoney's preliminary budget, 4-0, during the Monday, Aug. 8 meeting.

Commissioner Arlette Preston was not in attendance during the meeting.

Mahoney presented the budget to the commission on July 28 and copies of the document were distributed on Aug. 2. A public hearing for the final budget is slated for 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sep. 6.

The 2023 preliminary budget sits at roughly $341 million with a $55 tax levy. The preliminary budget is $10 million less than the 2022 budget, and has replaced various special revenue funds with more enterprise funds.

Commissioner John Strand asked if proper steps were taken to allow flexibility in the budget to increase pay for workers within the city.

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A market survey was dispersed out to workers as well as a 3.5% cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) on top of the survey results to ensure competitive wages, Mahoney said.

"We saw the national report that the inflationary wage is about 4.5% with the inflation running 9% right now. That's going to be difficult with a lot of Americans and a lot of wage owners in our city, so that's why we did a market survey to increase the market pay," Mahoney. "So, some people might be receiving a 4 or 5 or 6% on those changes."

The city's human resource department also offers a "step program," which gradually raises a worker’s wage in increments between 2 and 5%.

City employees have an opportunity to increase their pay via the program on top of the COLA. Mahoney and his team believes that with both the “step program” and the COLA, workers are receiving reasonable compensation.

With both systems in play, employees could earn as much as an 8.5% boost in wages.

The city's 3.5% COLA is the same percentage as Sanford Health, but slightly lower than Cass County's which sits at 4%. Mahoney said the county didn’t use the market survey as seriously as the city did, however.

Mahoney worked with the city's department heads to ensure a reasonable distribution of the city's funds and urged the commission to talk with the budget team on the changes.

With Fargo growing immensely in the last couple of years, tax-payers might start to notice.

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"We have growing challenges, growing populations, growing needs and it's not free," Strand said.

Mahoney noted an eighth fire station along with 12 firefighters is needed due to the growth of Fargo.

The commission voted on starting construction on the fire station. The new $8.1 million building will be built along 64th Avenue South near Fargo Davies High School and the Fargo Sports Complex.

Commissioner Denise Kolpack urged interested parties to attend the public hearing for the final budget.

"I really encourage the public to participate in the hearing and ask questions of the commissioners and the mayor," Kolpack said.

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