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Published August 21 2012

City of Fargo 2013 budget includes no fee, tax increases

FARGO – Fargo’s preliminary budget for 2013 slightly limits the city’s pocketbook next year and includes no changes to the mill levy or utility rates.

The $212.5 million budget is 4 percent less than the $221.2 million budget city leaders had this year.

Officials are tightening their belts somewhat while also facing reduced revenue from federal grants, the budget proposal states.

“My focus has been – and the people have asked us – to run it like a business, and that’s what we’re trying to do today: provide good service,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said when he released the preliminary budget Monday evening.

Fargo’s mill levy will remain at 58.25 mills, the same rate at which it’s been since 2006. Because the mill levy remains unchanged, residents’ property tax bills shouldn’t change unless the value of their property has.

Also included in the 2013 proposal is a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for Fargo employees. The bump will be retroactively effective as of July 1, 2012, Finance Director Kent Costin said. For the current budget, Fargo employees received only a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment, and Fargo commissioners were pleased the city’s finances allowed for a bigger increase next year.

“I’m hoping that everyone will agree to keep that (2 percent) in,” Commissioner Brad Wimmer said.

In a change from the past, annual salary increases for city employees will be decided next spring, about halfway through the fiscal year.

“It’s beneficial in these economic times to review it in midyear – it makes a lot of sense,” Walaker said.

Residents can weigh in on the 2013 budget proposal during a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 in City Hall, 200 3rd St. N. City leaders have until Oct. 7 to adopt the final 2013 budget.

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

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