Fargo-Moorhead area enjoyed growth in 2017, mayors say in annual 'State of the Cities' address
FARGO – The state of Fargo-Moorhead is pretty great, mayors of the four largest metro cities reported in their annual State of the Cities address Thursday morning, Jan. 11.
Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson and Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams boasted of new businesses and new homes.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney and West Fargo Mayor Tim Mattern highlighted continued excellence in their city’s services, especially increasing efficiency by sharing services such as Fargo’s treatment of water and sewage for West Fargo.
The event, held at the Fargo Holiday Inn, was organized by the Chamber of Commerce.
The top concern for the audience of mostly business officials wasn’t anything the cities had direct control over. Using text messaging for polling, the Chamber found that 39 percent believed the most pressing issue is a lack of enough workers followed by permanent flood control at 30 percent. Fifteen percent said their top concern was taxes.
A supermajority, 71 percent, believe the tax incentives cities have given out to encourage growth have been effective.
In Dilworth, Olson reported new businesses such as Aldi and Kool Kone and expanding businesses such as Serenity Assisted Living and Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2017. A shortage of lots earlier in the year stymied housing growth but developers have stepped up to the plate and made more than 100 lots available and he expects more growth this year, he said.
In lieu of speeches, the other three mayors showed professionally produced videos.
In Moorhead, the video highlighted what’s happened in the last four years while Williams was in office. She won’t run again and said she’s been thinking about lasts such as this being her last State of the Cities address as mayor.
The video showed vivid scenes from Moorhead and highlighted the population growing from 41,000 to 45,000 with new homes built and new students in area schools. It talked about new city services, such as no-sort recycling, and new infrastructure, such as new trails along the Red River.
In Fargo, the video highlighted city services, such as snow removal and one-sort recycling, and new facilities, such as the new City Hall and water treatment plant expansion, both expected to be done in 2018. Mahoney, who starred in the video, name checked every city commissioner to highlight their contributions and, to the audience’s amusement, performed a short rap about his commission.
In West Fargo, the video highlighted road upgrades, signing sewage and water deals with Fargo, new schools, shifting to a mixed volunteer and professional fire department, and new mixed-use commercial and residential developments along Sheyenne Street and Veterans Boulevard.
The mayors did address taxes, explaining how they try to reduce the property tax bill for their property owners.
Mahoney and Williams said economic growth helps reduce the pressure with new taxpayers added to the tax roll. Mahoney said Fargo has succeeded in getting enough business growth to have a majority of property taxes paid by commercial properties instead of residential properties as before.
Olson said Dilworth has saved money by buying sewage and water from Moorhead rather than owning its own treatment plants and have done so for 15 years, long before West Fargo’s 2017 deal with Fargo.
Mattern said his City Commission has worked hard to balance costs with the demand for services.
“Do you want snow plows out today or not?” he asked as a blizzard swirled outside.
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Three of four mayors who presented at the State of the Cities address Thursday, Jan. 11, delivered their remarks through previously recorded videos.