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City holding the line on increases

There won't be any utility rate increases next year for West Fargo residents or businesses.

During 2014 budget talks Monday night, West Fargo City Commissioners voted to approve a transfer of $325,000 from the general fund to the sanitation fund that will avoid a rate increase.

City ordinance requires that the Enterprise Funds (utility funds) must balance with revenues and expenditures being equal. As projected, the fund was running at a $325,000 deficit. causing the board to opt for the transfer and then agreeing to review the matter again next year.

Present budget projections for 2014 sit at $48,265,872 with a 1.04 mill levy decrease.

The budget proposal also includes hiring four employees in the police department -- three officers and a clerical position; and two each in the public works and sanitation areas.

The current salary proposal shows a one step increase and picking up the two percent increase in retirement contributions.

There will be a final budget meeting next week following the regular commission meeting Monday night. The West Fargo Public Library budget along with how to proceed with Vanguard software will be central to discussion.

The preliminary budget will be approved at a following city commission meeting and the final budget must be approved by Oct. 10.

The commission also approved a half-block addition to the city's current Renaissance Zone program including a parcel on the west end of the current zone from 15th Street Northwest to 21st Street Northwest.

The Renaissance Zone is a tool used by cities to revitalize their communities by offering both local and state tax incentives for five years.

The zone basically covers the Butler industrial Park, Main Ave from 11th Street West to 6th Street Northwest, Main Avenue on the south side of the road from 6th Street West to 24th Street East, Center Street from Main Ave to 8th Northwest west side of the street and Sheyenne Street from Main Avenue to 7th Avenue west.

In other action, the commission:

-agreed to dismiss a lawsuit against Glass Advantage, operating at 230 15th St. NW, West Fargo, that had been initiated in an attempt to abate a nuisance that has now been corrected to acceptable levels;

-voted to offer John Hoganson $10,000 an acre for land that the city wishes to acquire as part of a lagoon expansion project. The city's original offer was $8500 per acre. Hoganson counted with $10,000 and then a second adjusted counter of $11,000. At press time yesterday (Tuesday), city officials stated that Hoganson had accepted the $10,000 offer;

-gave final approval to the building and site plans for the Cambria Suites and Conference Center at 825 E. Beaton Dr., per the requirements of the Interstate Corridor Overlay District. The site plan remains unchanged from the previously approved Planned Unit Development plan. The landscaping meets all the requirements and the building construction meets all regulations of the corridor overlay district, including the materials on the exterior.

-approved second and final reading of Ordinance No. 970 relating to Firearms or Dangerous weapons so it conforms with the state statute as handed down from the last legislative session that will go into effect tomorrow, Aug. 1. The adjustments involve municipal court judges who don't have to be licensed to carry a gun; as well as an exemption for carrying a concealed weapon in church, if the individual is properly licensed and church leadership permits it. Any violations of the ordinance will also now be Class B Misdemeanors:

-approved a revised second and final reading for Ordinance No. 956 relating to the city lodging tax that eliminated a reference to the State Tax Commissioner. In doing so, the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau has the responsibility for collecting and administering the 3 percent lodging tax which was the original intention when the commission previously approved second and final reading on June 17. The FM CVB authority will become effective Sept. 1;

-following a public hearing, okayed a resolution declaring work necessary for Street Improvement District No. 2219, involving work on 7th Avenue from 17th to 45th Street as a continuation of previous work. Main Avenue businessman Howard Johnson voiced protest over the assessments being spread as far as Main Avenue. City staff explained the work is being done on a collector roadway so city policy calls for specials being spread a half-mile each way;

-following a public hearing approved first reading of a request from Westport Investments for rezoning of The Wild's 3rd Addition from agricultural to single family dwelling for development. The approximate 22-acre parcel is located west of Sheyenne Street and south of the Westport Beach development. The preliminary plat shows 42 single family lots;

-following a public hearing approved first reading of a request from Westport Investments for rezoning of The Wild's 4th Addition from agricultural to single family dwelling for development. The approximate 28-acre parcel is located south of The Willd's 1st Addition, west of Sheyenne Street and south of Westport Beach development. The preliminary plat shows 61 single family lots.

-following a public hearing approved first reading of a request from Butler Properties for the rezoning of Butler's 8th Addition from agricultural to heavy commercial/lightg industrial and a conditional use permit for a trucking facility. The approximate 94 acre parcel is located north of Main Avenue West, west of 21st St. N.W. and east of the Meadow Brook Park Subdivision;

-awarded the contract for Sewer, Water, Storm and Street Improvement District No. 1257, Oak Ridge 4th Addition, to Dakota Underground Company, Fargo, with a low bid of $1,334,509.54. the engineer's estimate was $1,155,000. This came after continued discussion on a possible $175,000 change order to the project if talks about where the easement will be located aren't resolved;

-awarded the contract for Sewer, Water, Storm and Street Improvement District No. 1258, Brooks Harbor 2nd Addition, to R & R Excavating, Inc., Hutchinson, Minn., with a low bid of $3,302,857.21. The engineer's estimate was $2,731,000;

-approved a change order for work on Well #9 and Well #12 that also involved terminating work with LTP Enterprises and adding a contract for Well #9 with second low bidder Traut Wells, who will work with LTP to coordinate the matter.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Aug. 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. A final 2014 budget meeting will follow. All meetings are open to the public.