Taxes will be going up for most property owners after the city, school district and the park district all approved 2020 budgets that included levy increases.
On Monday, Sept. 16, the City Commission held a public hearing for its 2020 budget after setting a preliminary budget earlier this year that would increase the general levy to 77.95 mills, or a 4.73 mill increase over last year. That increase is about $21.29 per $100,000 home, City Administrator Tina Fisk said.
“This budget contains 91.8 million in expenses and 91.25 million in revenue,” Fisk said. “[The increase] is due to increased requests from the public for increased services.”
Fisk said the 4.73 mills will help pay to expand the fire department by three staff members and return 1 mill to the West Fargo Public Library after the city took away 1 mill in 2019 to help keep any tax increases at bay.
At Monday’s public hearing, Roben Anderson, the only resident who spoke, asked why it appears that many city staff appear to be getting a 12 percent raise and why there is a $200,000 allotment for tree planting.
Fisk said the city builds in a 2 percent cost of living increase as well as a plan of steps for employees who can get a raise based on the time they have been working for the city, but most staff members are not getting a 12 percent raise.
The West Fargo School District held a public meeting on its budget on Monday, Sept. 8 with no residents attending. The school district is raising its levy to 137.79 mills, which equals about $20 of property taxes per $100,000 home.
Business Manager Mark Lemer said the general direction of the total levy is increasing, due largely in part to individual levy changes such as the sinking and interest levy, or the fund used to pay off debt such as the $106.1 million building bond passed by voters in 2018 to build a third high school and middle school.
The park district is not increasing its general levy in 2020, but taxes are expected to go up about $15 per $100,000 home due to an increase in mill valuation.
Fisk said she and staff have started to work on projections for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 budgets for the fast-growing city.
“Long-range planning is absolutely critical right now that we understand where the city’s priorities are right now,” Mayor Bernie Dardis said.