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Published August 22, 2012, 03:39 PM

Brown Proposes Tax, Utility Fee Increase to Aid Library, Fire Department

Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown is proposing a slight increase in property taxes and utility rates in the 2013 budget.

By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown is proposing a slight increase in property taxes and utility rates in the 2013 budget.

The mayor’s staff presented the preliminary budget to City Council members for the first time Tuesday evening.

Brown is seeking a 1 to 1.5-mill increase in property taxes of which 1 mill would be put toward funding a new fire station in the city’s southeast. The remaining 0.5 mills would increase wages for library staff but city officials are still reviewing that proposal.

Last year library staff requested 1 mill but were told by council members that the issue needed further study. A final report and recommendation about this year’s proposed wage increase will be completed prior to approval of the preliminary budget on September 4th.

The mill increase for the fire station would continue until 2015. The fire station is expected to be operational in 2016.

The city property tax rate is now 109.07, meaning the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $490.82 a year. A 1.5-mill increase would add $6.75 to that tax bill.

City staff projects the city would collect $16.9 million in revenue from property taxes, up from $16.2 million last year. Most of this increase comes from new construction in town.

Also set to increase are garbage rates, which will go up 3.5 percent, and water and sewage rates, which would each go up four percent.

The largest utility rate hikes would be to stormwater rates, which include a 7 percent increase stormwater fees and a seven percent increase in flood protection and Greenway maintenance.

The overall cost increase residents would see on their utility bills will be about 3.9 percent, according to city staff.

The budget will go before the council again for preliminary approval on Sept. 4. Once this approval is given, the council cannot increase the budget, but is allowed to decrease it.

The final vote of approval for the city budget is set for September 17th.

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