FARGO — Fargo City Commissioners unanimously approved cutting about $10.1 million from the city's general fund and capital improvement projects Monday night, May 4, due to economic troubles associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
City Administrator Bruce Grubb said it was "step one" in the city's budget management process that they will continue to monitor in the coming months.
He said for the first quarter that ended March 31, they had a drop of about 6% in revenue for the general fund and 2% in utility funds.
Grubb said revenue reductions total about $3 million today, so the cuts in the general fund would match that number.
Overall, the city's general budget for the year is about $100 million, so the cuts so far amount to about 3%.
The reductions include $980,000 in personnel, a $472,000 freeze in operating expenses and reducing $1.5 million in capital expenditures such as equipment.
The personnel cuts include not filling vacant full-time positions, reducing part-time seasonal workers, restricting overtime and lowering workers' compensation expenses.
In operating costs, they will freeze out-of-state and in-state travel and training, while cutting general supplies and miscellaneous line items.
Equipment delays will total $1.3 million, which is most of the general fund capital expenses.
The other $7.1 million will come from the city's planned capital improvement program, including for street, flood control, pavement preservation and sidewalk projects.
City Engineer Brenda Derrig said those cuts are about equal to what they expect to see in reductions in city sales tax income and the state-funded Prairie Dog program that was supposed to help with infrastructure work. It's about a 40% cut in those two funding streams.
The capital improvement budget for infrastructure work, which includes funding from other sources, was cut from $108 million to $81.9 million.
Extending 45th Street South from 52nd Avenue to 64th Avenue was delayed, and the scope of the Seventh Avenue North project was reduced to only Broadway to Second Street North, cutting out the project to Elm Street.
Flood control projects on Elm Circle and Woodcrest Drive were also delayed. Utility replacement projects were kept intact. In all, another 21 smaller projects were eliminated or delayed.
City commissioners had few comments, but Mayor Tim Mahoney said after the meeting that they could receive some federal stimulus money to help with expenses, possibly up to $7 million, and Derrig said they could also receive federal funds for street and other infrastructure projects and that several were "shovel-ready" if that happens.
Commissioner Tony Grindberg added some positives on the economic front. He said UPS and FedEx at-home deliveries are going up about 40% a week, which could help with sales tax revenue, and jobless numbers appear to be dropping.