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Wendy Reuer, Published August 20 2012

Cass County approves preliminary budget

FARGO – Cass County commissioners unanimously approved a preliminary budget Monday that will reduce the county’s general mill levy.

The $76 million 2013 budget will reduce the mill levy to 63.60 mills, a 2.15 percent decrease from the 2012 budget.

“The decrease in the mill levy is the result of the strong economy in North Dakota and in Cass County,” County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said.

Commissioner Ken Pawluk said the lack of a 2012 flood after three in as many years – 2009, 2010 and 2011 – also lowers the need for an increase in emergency management and flood-related expenses.

“That also has had a significant impact on why we were able to reduce the mill levy this year,” he said.

Montplaisir said the budget is nearly identical to the 2012 budget. He said that is because the highway department lowered its budget while the water resource district is requesting a higher budget to plan for several projects slated for 2013.

The budget includes a 2.4 percent increase in cost of living for county employees as well as a 1 percent increase in retirement fund contributions by the county.

Montplaisir said staff costs make up more than 50 percent of the county’s budget.

A public hearing will be held regarding the budget at 6 p.m. Sept. 17.

In other business:

The commission approved an amended limited joint powers agreement with the Flood Diversion Authority, along with a

$29 million budget for the authority.

Diversion Authority Chairman and Cass County Commissioner Darrell Vanyo said the proposed budget and limited joint powers agreements will still need to be approved by the cities of Fargo and Moorhead, Clay County, the Cass County Joint Water Resources District and the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District.

“We’re asking people to weigh in whether they believe it is the appropriate figure,” Vanyo said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530