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City approves final budget, mill levy continues decline

West Fargo City Commissioners approved the 2014 budget Monday night that has expenditures totaling $48,172,047, which sets the mill levy at 89.34 — a 1.97 decrease over the previous year. The projected value of a mill for 2014 is $89,404,104.

Proposed department expenditures include: $10,232,397 general fund; $2,540,210 sanitation; $4,640,400 sewer water; $861,405 library; $145,096 airport, $17,916,734 debt service; $500,000 capital improvements; and $11,335,805 special revenue.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee said the budget figures remained the same from the preliminary one approved a few weeks earlier. The only change was good news – the taxable value from centrally assessed properties handeled by the State came in higher than the city had estimated which lowered the mill rate even more taking it from the 1.09 in the preliminary budget to 1.97.

The budget allows for the hiring of four employees in the police department — three officers and a clerical position — and two each in the public works and sanitation areas.

Salaries will see a one-step increase with the city picking up the cost of a two percent increase in retirement contributions.

The budget will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

In other action, the commission:

  • approved a resolution authorizing the sale of improvement warrants and exchanging them for $13,630,000 of refunding improvement bonds of 2013, Series B. Mike Manstrom of Dougherty and Company, Bismarck, who handles the bond sales said there were ten bids submitted which he described as “phenomenal for a public sale.” Robert W Baird and Co., an out-of-state consortium was low bidder at 3.696 percent on the 25-year issue. The board voted 5-0 to approve the sale;
  • approved a building permit request from Nate Vollmuth, for property in Lot 2, Block 1, West Lake Third Addition, to proceed at his own risk for the construction of a 27-plex. There are a total of five lots, the first has already been developed into a 33-plex and the other lots will follow. Vollmuth wanted the approval from the board so crews can begin site work and get foundations formed in advance of a planned unit amendment being approved through the planning and zoning and commission channels;
  • following a public hearing at which no one voiced protest approved assessment lists for Street Improvement District Nos. 2216, 2223 and 2225, Sewer and Water Improvement District No. 1255, Sewer, Water and Storm Improvement District No. 1241, and Sewer, Water, Storm and Street Improvement District Nos. 1243, 1244, 1247, 1250, 1252, 1254 and 1256.
  • approved first reading of zoning ordinance amendment to allow for nursing homes, retirement homes, convalescent homes, assisted living facilities and the like as conditionally permitted uses in a commercial office park district. The public hearing was held on the matter at the last meeting and continued so officials from Rusty Goose Development making the request could be present. Dan Buiede representing Rusty Goose asked that these areas be allowed as permitted uses but the board decided to go with the conditional permitted uses so they have the opportunity review the requests on a case- by-case basis;
  • okayed first reading on the rezoning of Oak Ridge 5th Addition from agricultural to planned unit development and light commercial and a land use amendment from low density residential to office park per a request from RNT Development/Osgood Investments, LLC, for a 29.54 acre parcel to develop for retail space and an assisted living facility, located between 6th Street East and Veterans Boulevard south of 32nd Avenue East. The assisted living center would sit on 5.4 acres to the north of the Shadow Wood development;
  • following a public hearing approved a five-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) request for New Perspective Senior Living Facility in Lot 1, Block 2, Oak Ridge Addition, West Fargo, an approximate 130,000 square foot, 120-130 unit complex. The three 4-story structure will provide assisted living and dedicate 40 units to memory care. The $15 million project, known as The Lighthouse of West Fargo, will see over 100 construction workers on the job for a year.
  • approved second and final reading of zoning ordinance amendments to the Sheyenne Corridor Overlay District, Main Avenue Overlay District, Landscaping Standards and Parking Regulations, all minor changes that will better clarify some of the provisions in these areas that were established about a year ago upon the recommendation of the Downtown Development Study. The modifications deal with defining the boundaries of the districts instead of referring to them as the Sheyenne Street and Main Avenue Framework Study; defining at what point property owners are required to build to the front of their property lines as well as yard setback and outdoor display and material requirements; plant unit number guidelines; as well as mud dragging issues on streets from unpaved access points and parking lots giving three years time to correct the issue.
  • okayed a building plan review for development within the Interstate Corridor Overlay for Biolife Plasma Services at 801 Beaton Dr. E. A planned unit development amendment and plat request were approved at the Aug. 19 meeting.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. All meetings are open to the public.