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Moorhead mayor says weather big budget help

MOORHEAD - Mayor Mark Voxland is calling 2012 the year to break what has been a three-year cycle of flood and budget fights during his annual State of the City address Monday.

MOORHEAD - Mayor Mark Voxland is calling 2012 the year to break what has been a three-year cycle of flood and budget fights during his annual State of the City address Monday.

"2012 could be a start in a new way of doing business in Moorhead," Voxland said.

Voxland said council business has focused on record flooding and budget constraints caused by a state funding drought the past three years. "There is a world of difference between last year and this year," he said.

He said now is the time for the council to take action and begin to plan long-range goals for the city of Moorhead. Voxland said he is charging the council with developing a five-year strategy for the city.

"We're starting 2012 thinking about flooding, not planning for it. We're looking at what the Legislature will do, but they do have a budget surplus, and they do want a short session. The year could be normal without a flood and without budget cuts," he said.

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Moorhead saw a loss of more than $1 million in Local Government Aid last year.

Voxland was quick to point out that last year the council accomplished many large projects, such as approving permanent flood protection plans and a method to pay for those projects. The council also obtained federal permission to reopen the Interstate 94 and Main Avenue ramps, and the city remains poised for growth with steady property values and low fire and police calls.

But Voxland conceded that residents must be looking for change, with six new council members elected in the past two election cycles.

Clay County District Court Judge Michael Kirk swore in new council members Heidi Durand, Steve Gehrtz and Mike Hulett just before Voxland's state of the city address.

Voxland said he is setting up task forces to examine at least three key issues in the city: analysis of housing, developer/contractor relationships and to question community partnership relationships.

Voxland not only charged the council with working together in an efficient and more time-saving manner but put a charge to residents as well. Voxland said the city needs its residents to come forward and voice their concerns, to not be afraid to call, write or communicate to council members their opinions.

"Let them know what we can do to make our community better," Voxland said.

Voxland said he likely will be asking residents to volunteer for upcoming committees or task forces.

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In other business:

  • Councilwoman Nancy Otto was appointed mayor pro tem for the year 2012.
  • City Manager Michael Redlinger said an internal listing requesting applicants for the fire chief position went up last week. He said interviews will take place Feb. 8 and 9.
  • City Clerk Jill Wenger said the full petition to repeal the city's drug paraphernalia ordinance was not handed in Monday. Tom Tepley, owner of Discontent handed in a number of signatures Friday and said he would hand in the rest Monday. Wenger said Tepley called her office and notified her that the final signatures will be turned in today.

The city will have 30 days to certify the petition. If the petition is found to have at least 1,800 signatures of registered voters, the ordinance can be repealed by the City Council or put on the ballot for a citywide vote.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

Related Topics: MOORHEAD
As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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