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City approves 2012 budget

West Fargo City Commissioners held the line with their approval of its 2012 budget Monday night that has expenditures totaling a little over $32 million, with the end result meaning no property tax increases and no hikes in what residential and commercial users pay each month for utility fees.

The approval leaves the mill levy at 91.25, a .0.22 decrease over last year's levy. The projected value of a mill for 2012 is $77,156, a mill value increase of $3,144 per mill over last year, based on an upsurge in property valuation.

The budget, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012, also includes a one percent cost of living salary increase and a step for eligible employees as rated by evaluations; and a NDPERS two percent increase from 9.26 percent to 11.26 percent in retirement.

The Commission also voted to approve a request for a 15-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) property tax exemption plan for Caterpillar's new 225,000 square foot $50 million Remanufacturing Drivetrain expansion at 1262 W. Main Ave., that will more than double their current size and add an additional 250 jobs to the current 300 workforce at 1262 West Main Ave.

Approval of the 15-year plan, on the expansion only, will result in a 100 percent exemption for the first ten years, with the remaining five years on a graduated scale.

No one spoke out at the public hearing but before the motion was made City Commissioner Mike Thorstad offered comments saying he favored this exemption request. "I think it's a great program. This is an exceptional project and they are bringing jobs in right away." He also lauded Caterpillar for playing an active role in community efforts and projects, always willing to participate and "give back" in whatever way possible.

In other action, the commission:

-approved a Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation request to support a joint application for West Fargo with the city of Mandan for the State Small Business Credit Initiative funds with the Department of the Treasury. The state of North Dakota decided not to pursue the approximate $13 million in funding allocated last November. Their nonparticipation allowed for municipalities or a combination thereof to apply for the funding that is to be used for various approved loan enhancement and venture capital programs. The reason for the joint application is to create a statewide program that will make available a larger pool of funds the since the allocation is based on overall population. Only those cities included in the application would qualify for the funds.

-acting as the Board of Adjustments approved a variance to reduce the front yard setbacks for parking lots from ten feet to zero for the Brenco and Visto businesses at 1175 and 1193 East Main Avenue, since the original setback standard is no longer appropriate with the reconstruction of Main Avenue and elimination of the frontage road;

-gave final plat approval to split two properties for resale in Geller's 3rd Addition owned by Erwin Visto;

-okayed a planned unit development in Burlington 4th Addition for twin home development by Wayne Welle;

-awarded contracts for work in Storm Sewer District No. 4044-Phase II, 4046 and 4047, which are regional lift stations for Sections 19, 29, and 20, to John T. Jones Construction, Fargo, for general and mechanical construction with a low bid of $9,416,694.52; and to JDP Electric, Inc., Fargo, for electrical work with a low bid of $789,668.

-agreed to proceed on a nuisance complaint involving dust and odor problems at the Glass Advantage, a glass recycling business located at 230 15th St. NW. City Engineer Kevin Bucholz said he had a phone conversation with a company official who said they would be reviewing their bagging process system but that he didn't have the resources or authority to proceed with anything else. The commission agreed to turn the matter over to the city attorney for further action and to conduct testing to see what the health hazards or implications might be before proceeding further.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Oct. 3, at 5:30 p.m., in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.