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Fargo revisits lighting utility

The Fargo City Commission on Monday will revisit a proposal to create a city street lighting utility. The plan would raise about $1.6 million through monthly charges on homeowners and commercial properties. The charges - $4 per month to homeowner...

The Fargo City Commission on Monday will revisit a proposal to create a city street lighting utility.

The plan would raise about $1.6 million through monthly charges on homeowners and commercial properties.

The charges - $4 per month to homeowners and $10 per month to commercial properties - would be added to utility bills, breaking costs out of the city's general fund and putting them directly on homeowners and businesses.

City officials have said they've been considering the lighting utility for several years.

They said they've been looking for ways to generate new revenue without raising property taxes and to make budgeting more consistent, especially with rising energy costs.

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The city in 2008 paid $800,000 for electricity to operate its street lights. That was up from $550,000 in 2003, according to city officials.

In the 2010 street lighting utility budget, $890,000 is allocated for electricity.

Total costs for the utility in 2010 are estimated at $1.58 million, including a $322,685 anticipated transfer into the city's general fund.

"That's similar to other utilities in the city. The state Century Code allows for revenue transfers," City Finance Director Kent Costin said.

"It's consistent with the structure and budgeting for other utilities," he said of moving money from street light fees into the general fund.

The budget for the proposed street lighting utility calls for two full-time positions with combined salary of $113,663.

The positions would come from an adjustment of existing staff, with no new positions created, Costin said.

The most recent city estimate shows a projected net income of $26,667 from the street light utility.

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The Commission voted 5-0 on Nov. 16 to approve the first reading of the ordinance creating the utility.

The ordinance receives its second reading at Monday's meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Commission's chambers at City Hall.

If approved Monday, the ordinance would be adopted.

Among other items on the agenda for Monday's Commission meeting:

  • Some residents in the 3100 block of 9½ and 10 streets north want to talk about damage to their homes caused by a sanitation sewer backup Nov. 4. A line break that day sent sewage into about 30 homes.

  • Confirming recommendations of the Metro Flood Work Group, which is calling for:
  • 500-year flood protection.
  • Removing levees from consideration as primary flood protection.
  • Having the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study three flood mitigation options: a 35,000 cubic-feet- per-second diversion in Minnesota, a 30,000 cubic-feet-per-second diversion in North Dakota and a 35,000 cubic-feet-per-second diversion in North Dakota. Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

  • Related Topics: FARGO CITY COMMISSION
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