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Published July 31 2010

West Fargo water, garbage rates to increase

Although there’s no property tax increase on the horizon, West Fargo residents will likely see higher rates for water and garbage pickup in 2011.

City officials are in the final stages of crafting the preliminary budget for the 2011 fiscal year and said the rate increases are necessary to offset costs and balance the numbers.

Under the proposed budget, residents’ garbage bills would increase by $1 to $11 a month. Residents also would be charged an extra 50 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water used.

The rate increases would go into effect Jan. 1 if the 2011 budget is approved.

The increased rates would amount to an extra $423,500 in city revenue to help balance the sanitation and sewer and water departmental budgets.

In the next budget cycle, the sanitation department is set to gain two full-time employees and about $355,000 in new or replacement equipment.

West Fargo’s exponential growth in recent years has demanded more work from the city’s 15 sanitation employees, creating a need for two more employees, according to the department’s budget request.

Meanwhile, the sewer and water department would gain $192,000 in new or replacement equipment, among other additional costs the department faces in the next budget cycle.

City ordinance requires that department’s budget to balance, and officials said a slight rate increase for water usage is necessary to accomplish that.

However, West Fargo leaders stressed that the city’s rates are still among the lowest in the state for cities of comparable size.

“We’re still going to be on the low end,” Mayor Rich Mattern said. “I think we should feel good about that.”

West Fargo commissioners also were glad to see that property taxes should remain steady since the mill levy won’t change over the 2010 fiscal year budget.

“Coming up with no property tax increase is putting together a puzzle that is not easy,” Mattern said.

Changes can still be made to the proposed budget since city commissioners have until Sept. 7 to approve the preliminary budget. They must approve the final budget by early October.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541