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Moorhead plays catchup in 2022 budget

Property tax rate to go up 5% with 2.5% increase for garbage and wastewater.

Moorhead city hall 5 15 19
The Moorhead City Hall in the city's downtown mall.
Forum file photo
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MOORHEAD — With no comments from the public or City Council members, the 2022 Moorhead budget was approved Monday night, Dec. 13.

City Finance Director Jenica Flanagan told the council that after last year when there was basically no increase at all because of the pandemic they are "playing catch up" in 2022.

Overall, the tax rate will increase about 5%, which is the highest in the past eight years with the next biggest increase in 2018 at 4.9%.

It will have minor effects on the city's portion of property tax bills, however.

Flanagan said for the city's median home home value of $191,900 the monthly increase will be $3.24 or annually of $38.91.

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For a home valued at $300,000, the increase will be $5.46 per month or $65.58 per year.
The city also has three utility operations.

The city has developed long-term plans of annual increases of 2.5% in each of the next 10 years in the wastewater fund to fund a major improvement project and similar increases in the garbage rate to build back up a reserve fund and increased operating expenses.

Thus, for wastewater the average residential single family rate will be $32.75 next year with an increase of about 80 cents a month.

For garbage service, the average residential rate will be $10.04 with an increase of about 25 cents a month.

The other city utility, the forestry department, will increase its fee 20 cents a month.

Commercial rates won't increase at all for taxes unless the property value was raised as the state's border cities legislation takes care of any tax increase. They will however pay the higher utility rates.

The city's general fund, which pays for most operations of the city, will total $34 million next year, up $1.7 million.

The city police operations at $11 million and fire department at $5.3 million make up about half of the general fund expenditures.

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The city also has a capital improvement program for infrastructure projects. Flanagan said the city plans to spend about $17 million next year with the biggest share for the Center Avenue reconstruction, landscaping and lighting at $5.6 million, a new garbage truck and equipment for the new garbage transfer and recycling center at $1 million, a new trail from downtown's Woodlawn Park to the southside Goosberry Mound Park at about $1 million and police body cameras at $300,000.

The city's share of a property owner's property tax bill is 33%, with the county at 38% and the school district at 27%. There is also 1% for the economic development authority and 1% for the watershed district.

City Manager Dan Mahli said in a statement after the meeting that "with poulation growth at 17% over the last 10 years, wwe believe the approved 2022 budget positions the city to manage the growth and potential it is experiencing."

In commenting on the budget process, Flanagan said the goals were to work together, serve the community, support employees and balance the budget.

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