City's largest-ever budget passes
The Moorhead City County on Monday rejected raising property taxes an additional $100,000 for discretionary use. Council members unanimously approved a $51.6 million budget - the largest in the city's history and a 17 percent increase from 2005. ...
The Moorhead City County on Monday rejected raising property taxes an additional $100,000 for discretionary use.
Council members unanimously approved a $51.6 million budget - the largest in the city's history and a 17 percent increase from 2005.
A levy of $4,835,500 was approved, compared to $4,601,944 in 2005.
The growth in the budget is driven by the growth in the city, City Manager Bruce Messelt said. It calls for 11 new city workers: three firefighters, three in engineering, three in parks and forestry, one for street and park maintenance, and one in neighborhood services.
Under the approved 2006 budget, the tax rate is estimated to rise just over 1 percent, raising property taxes on a $100,000 home from $205 to $213.
An amendment to increase the tax rate by 1.6 percent to raise $100,000 was rejected 6-2.
"To take an additional $100,000 ... is a significant impact on our taxpayers," said Councilwoman Nancy Otto, who voted against the amendment.
The additional $100,000 would help the council handle any unforeseen future costs, including any rise in fuel costs, Councilman Jim Danielson argued. If Moorhead citizens want quality staff and quality services, they should be expected to pay for it, he said.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch," he said. "I think we should raise taxes extraordinarily to get that $100,000."
Finance Director Harlyn Ault said the city has budgeted a 40 percent increase in fuel costs, $136,000 more than this year.
Councilman Dan Hunt argued the council should pass the proposed budget. Councilman Morrie Kelsven said the council is micromanaging the situation and should back the staff that is being paid to put the budget together.
"What I'm doing is second-guessing the city manager, and I'm perfectly comfortable in doing that," he said. Greg Lemke also voted for the higher tax rate.
In other action Monday, the council - by a 7-1 vote - approved $10,000 in funding for the Rourke Art Gallery Museum. Council members also approved increasing minimum city salaries to $7.50 per hour for part-time and seasonal employees.
Two property managers also came before the council to discuss the rental registration fee that is being raised to $350 per building and $5 per unit from $25 per unit, to pay for the neighborhood services position. The City Council will meet Monday to discuss future meetings with property owners and affected community members, said City Manager Bruce Messelt.
"We want to reward well-managed and well-maintained properties," Messelt said. "The purpose of the fee structure is to reflect that."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joe Whetham at (701) 241-5557