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Preliminary 2011 budget talks begin

West Fargo City Commissioners opened their first round of 2011 budget talks Monday night reviewing the general fund which has its beginning total set at $7,946,970, about a 5.2 percent increase over last year.

The goal of the commission this year, as in the past, is to keep any mill levy increases at a minimum. As the preliminary budget stands now, the city will be using surplus funds to cover three mills to help accomplish just that. City Administrator Jim Brownlee said he is comfortable with the city utilizing part of the surplus to accommodate those three mills. A mill is worth approximately $74,000.

With two more budget sessions set for further discussion and adjustments, numbers presently reflect a 1.2 mill levy increase for the 2011 budget year, equating to a taxpayer increase of $5.20 on a $100,000 home.

Other points of the proposed preliminary budget also include: a one percent cost of living salary increase and a step for eligible employees as rated by evaluations; unknown health insurance rate increases with staff still researching quotes from additional vendors to compare costs; police and public works department staffing requests; a proposed $1 increase per month for garbage pickup; as well as equipment requests for the police and sanitation departments.

The next budget meeting set for Monday, July 26, at 5:30 p.m., in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall, will address special funds.

The preliminary budget will more than likely be approved in early September, with the finalized budget required to be adopted in early October.

All budget meetings are open to the public.