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Grand Forks budget proposal includes lower property tax rate, higher utility fees

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Mayor Mike Brown’s preliminary 2015 budget includes a lower property tax rate and an increase in utility fees, as presented Monday to Grand Forks City Council.

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As the city’s property values have increased the past year, the value of a mill — a unit used to set the property tax rate — has increased about 11 percent or up to $180,200 from $162,284.

The 2015 budget includes a 5.68 mill decrease for property taxes. That means the amount of money the city takes in from property taxes would increase only 1.5 percent as opposed to a nearly 7 percent revenue increase that would have come from no mill decrease, City Auditor Maureen Storstad said.

Under the 2014 budget, property owners paid $437 per $100,000 of property value annually for the city’s portion of property taxes. In the 2015 budget, with the mill decrease, property owners would pay $414 per $100,000 of property value, Storstad said.

Those numbers do not include the 12 percent of city property tax bills paid for by the state.

City property tax collections pay for services such as police and fire protection, street cleaning and snow removal and parts of the city’s flood protection, Grand Forks International Airport, the Grand Forks Public Library and several other city departments.

Utility fees

Grand Forks residents’ monthly utility bills could increase $3.47, or about 5 percent, with the city’s 2015 budget.

Part of the increase would be put toward the city’s landfill and garbage collection and new water treatment plant, which should start construction in 2016 or 2017.

The city also plans to increase the amount in its capital project fund by about $27.8 million to pay for several projects such as additional infrastructure west of Interstate 29.

That infrastructure, which would include water and sewer service, would make the land more ready for business and housing development, according to city officials.

Also, in special revenue funds, the city has budgeted for constructing a new southeast fire station and remodeling the Grand Forks Senior Center.

About $2.4 million is budgeted for the fire station, and about $675,000 has been designated for rehabilitating the city-owned senior center building.

The 2015 budget is up for preliminary approval at the City Council’s Sept. 2meeting.

A public hearing for the budget will be Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The budget also is up for final approval by the council at that meeting.

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Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn. Read more of her reporting about the city of Grand Forks at citystreetbeat.areavoices.com.
(701) 780-1102
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