WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published September 04, 2013, 09:48 AM

Grand Forks City Council makes little change to city budget

Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown’s proposed budget emerged Monday from the first part of its approval process relatively unchanged.

By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown’s proposed budget emerged Monday from the first part of its approval process relatively unchanged.

Despite a barrage of motions from City Council member Terry Bjerke, the mayor’s proposal saw only a few alterations, including an increase in funds to create a new city website.

The budget, which has no property tax rate increase, was given preliminary approval by council by a vote of 6-1. With preliminary approval received, the city’s budget can be decreased but not increased.

Final approval and a public hearing are set for 6 p.m. Sept. 16.

Through one of his motions, Bjerke attempted to reduce the proposed mill levy of about 110 mills by 3.18 mills. One mill is equal to one-tenth of a penny and is used to determine property taxes.

According to Bjerke, the decrease would offset the 3 percent tax increase residents would see caused by rising property values in the city. Three percent is the average amount property values are expected to increase.

“We’d be the only entity in the state doing what it’s supposed to do,” Bjerke said. “This way, we can pass on every stinking penny (of property tax relief).”

The move would have cost the city about $518,000 in revenue, according to Bjerke’s calculations.

His motion was defeated by a vote of 1-6.

With the motion’s failure, the budget’s general fund remains at about $34.7 million in expenditures and revenues — a 5 percent increase from 2013.

The tax increase from growing property valuations cuts into tax relief passed by the state Legislature. This year, residents would see a 12-percent tax credit on their property tax bills.

For example, the owner of a $100,000 home can expect to pay $494 for the city portion of their property tax bill. With the tax credit, that amount drops to $435.

Both that tax credit and a 50-mill buydown for school districts from the state would impact residents’ entire tax bills.

As other local entities are still adjusting their budgets, a final discount on Grand Forks County property tax bills won’t be known until later in the month.

Tags: