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Published August 21, 2012, 10:16 PM

Preliminary Budget Looking Good for East Grand Forks

For the second consecutive year in a row the city of East Grand Forks is going to get by without a levy increase. The city's preliminary budget was introduced this evening to city council members but as always the budget could have some changes in the upcoming weeks.

For the second consecutive year in a row the city of East Grand Forks is going to get by without a levy increase. The city's preliminary budget was introduced this evening to city council members but as always the budget could have some changes in the upcoming weeks.

Although the preliminary budget which was introduced tonight doesn't short-change the people in East Grand right now council members may decide over the next few weeks to add a few things, and a cushion for the pool project may be one of them.

Although local government aid has been cut several times over the past couple years, the city's budget remains stable.

Scott Huizenga, City Administrator/Treasurer: "Essentially the city over the past 5 years has had to adjust to, I guess what would be called, the 'new normal'"

They've changed gears by reducing staff, taking opportunities when they can and planning for capital improvements on a yearly basis rather than an emergency basis.

Huizenga: "We now have capital plans in place that cycle through so that the funding is always there to replace the equipment we need, to fix the streets we need to do and keep that cycle moving."

If the council members vote to approve certain projects like pool renovations Huizenga advises the city to add a cushion.

Huizenga: "At least in the preliminary levy they set that levy a little bit higher than maybe it needs to be just so we have that flexibility when we go through that pool debate."

Council will have to come up with a number by next month, some say will be tough to do.

Demers: "If you put that number out it can be scary to folks even if you back down from there."

But overall council members say the preliminary budget shows how diligently the current council has worked to get the city in a good place.

Demers: "Pleasantly surprised, we've worked real hard."

Huizenga: "I'm pleasantly surprised for where we stand right now and it's again a result with a lot of planning by staff and this body over several years."

Scott Huizenga says there's a fair amount of personnel savings in this budget just due to attrition turnovers and retirement.

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