West Fargo City Commissioners approved the city's 2014 preliminary budget Monday night that has expenditures totaling $48,172,047, up from approximately $35 million in 2013. Even though the figures are higher, the city continues to ward off any property tax increases because of the continued upsurge in property valuation due to the ongoing residential and commercial construction.
The approval sets the mill levy at 89.34 -- a 1.09 decrease over the previous year. The projected value of a mill for 2014 is $88,523, an increase of $8,615 per mill over 2013.
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.
The police department at $5.2 million accounts for the largest part of the general fund budget followed by the street department at $2.2 million. In special revenue funds, future building accounts for $8 million, sales tax $1.65 million and municipal highway funds $1.6 million.
The budget also holds utility rate increases in check thanks to a $325,000 transfer from the general fund to the sanitation fund.
City ordinance requires that Enterprise Funds (utility funds) must balance with revenues and expenditures. The fund was running at a $325,000 deficit. causing the commission to opt for the transfer instead of a rate increase for residential and business users.
The budget also 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.
In other areas: an extra $30,000 was allocated in the Library Department budget for a survey that will look at the future space needs of the library; the annual West Fargo Fire Department contract for services was approved totalling $650,000, the same as 2013; and the Vanguard computer system was included in the 2014 budget at a cost of $59,225.
Mayor Rich Mattern thanked city staff and everyone involved in formulating the budget. "It's always a yearly tightrope we walk to make sure we are spending money wisely and with this budget I think we are," he stated.
The public hearing to approve the final budget will take place Monday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. during the regularly scheduled commission meeting. Once formally approved, the budget will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
In other action Monday night, the commission:
-heard briefly from Marie Slaughter, Jim Burgard and Don Pederson, residents living in the city's extraterritorial area adjacent to the lagoon located on 12th Avenue Northwest seeking more information on a new cell addition to the nine presently there. Questions posed included: how it would affect their quality of life including odor and insect issues, how it would it affect property values, and what potential flood and surface water issues would be west and north of the proposed site. The city plans to build a new cell on a city-owned 80-acre parcel on the west side of the current lagoon. Slaughter asked the commission if they would schedule a meeting with the residence in the area to further explain and answer questions. No formal action was taken but it was agreed once all the state permits are received for the new cell project to move forward, city staff would hold an informational meeting with residents. The lagoon was built in 1957 and the last expansion took place in 1994. City staff say the lagoon is working well and the expansion is needed because the current cells are reaching their capacity, expedited by the community growth;
-heard an update from Julie Rokke of YHR Architects on the new City Commission room that will be a part of the new police building that will begin construction in 2014. The chambers will be located in the southwest corner of the new addition. Commissioners provided input on the plan that is yet to be finalized.
-listened to a request from John Nore of Visto's Trailer Sales for a driveway access off of Main Avenue at 1175 Main Ave. E. Nohr said his business that he purchased a couple of years ago is difficult to access and that he is willing to cover the cost of a new access. The board agreed to send a letter supporting the action along with Nohr's application to the North Dakota Department of Transportation who has the final say. If the application is approved, North will also have to secure a West Fargo permit;
-okayed a conditional use permit for a request from Greg Dawkins, 901 Martin Dr., for a 36' x 45' accessory building for personal storage on the north side of the property;
-approved a liquor license application transfer for Dennis Kerbaugh, who will be taking over Sheyenne Liquor Mart at 416 Sheyenne St.;
-okayed first reading of Ordinance No. 974 relating to Driving While License is Suspended or Revoked. The minor changes deal with the duties of municipal judges and conform with updates from the current legislative session;
-awarded the contract for the Ninth Street Overlay project from 14th Ave. E. to 19th Ave. E. to Border States Paving, Fargo, with a low bid of $218,910. The engineer's estimate was $290,616.25;
-approved a conditional use permit request from Trail King Industries, for an aboveground fuel tank at 2130 3rd Ave. NW;
-okayed a conditional use permit for a licensed child care facility for up to 18 children in her home from Abigail Mindeman, at 1583 18th Ave. E. with the stipulation that the children are dropped off in the driveway only;
-okayed a conditional use permit for a licensed child care facility for up to 18 children in her home from Kerri Streyle, 3314C 8th St. W.
-favored a planned unit amendment providing for development standards according to the large lot single family dwelling district that would allow for construction of larger single family homes and accessory buildings. The request was made by ChuLinda Investments LLC, for Lots 4 and 5, Hayden Heights Addition, a 45,167 square feet parcel located west of the Sheyenne Diversion on the north side of 40th Avenue West;
-okayed a final plat and gave approval of a planned unit amendment for a proposed office building for Minnesota Hospitality in Charleswood 32nd Addition, on the east side of Beaton Dr. Biolife intends to operate a facility on the location. The approximate 17,000 square foot structure will sit on the 3 ½ acre site;
-gave final plat approval to a replat of Montgomery 2nd Addition for townhome style rental units;
-approved second reading on the rezoning of Butler's 8th Addition from agricultural to heavy commercial/light industrial along with final plat and conditional use permit approval for a trucking facility;
-approved second reading and final plat approval for Ordinance No. 972 the Wilds 4th Addition and Ordinance No. 971 The Wilds Third Addition from agricultural to single family dwelling;
-offered final plat approval for Maple Ridge and the Preserve's 3rd Addition and The Wild's 5th Addition;
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Sept. 16 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.