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2020 budget process ending, and another soon begins

f you’ve followed the 2020 budget process, you know we’re nearing the end.

The Minot City Council approved the preliminary 2020 budget on first reading at its meeting this past week, a vote that was the culmination of months of work by members of the council, countless City of Minot employees, and members of the community who shared with us their concerns and recommendations.

The final discussion about the proposed 2020 budget will take place on Sept. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at city hall. The meeting does not include a public hearing with time for public comments; instead council members will again have the opportunity to discuss among themselves any items in the budget. I invite the public to attend the meeting to listen to the discussion, or join our live broadcast on YouTube or Facebook.

A few reminders of what’s in the 2020 budget:

— There will be no property tax increase. In fact, most property owners will see a slight reduction in the City portion of their tax bill.

— The proposed mill levy for 2020 will be 121.29, down from 129.23 in 2019 due to the City’s Recreation and Auditorium Department being transferred to the Minot Park District.

— While the proposed 2020 budget is $275 million, or approximately $95 million more than 2019, that total includes money for flood control construction inside and outside city limits and the Northwest Area Water Supply project. The local money in the 2020 budget for those projects has been set aside for years, and now must be put into budget to be utilized.

We thank the many City of Minot staff members who have contributed to researching and creating the 2020 budget. It is not an easy job, nor is it a job that is taken lightly. Every year, department heads and their employees are tasked with scrutinizing their budgets, looking for ways to improve operations while maintaining or lowering their overall costs. Our staff members have done well to maximize efficiency while at the same time reducing personnel, equipment, and other costs where appropriate and feasible without negatively affecting essential city services.

We thank the members of the public who have reached out to us during the lengthy budget process. We held several public input meetings to gather input from community members, and we’ve appreciated the suggestions and input we’ve received through phone calls, text messages, email, and personal conversations. Your input and concerns do not fall upon deaf ears. The public’s input is a valued and important part of the budgeting process, and council members must constantly balance the best interests of all Minot residents when making the difficult decisions that lead to the creation and passage of a budget.

A resident spoke during the public hearing portion of the Sept. 16 city council meeting, and asked council members to be mindful of increasing property taxes again, and to essentially keep a close watch on the City’s purse strings. We couldn’t agree more. Again, there is no property tax increase in the 2020 budget. Rest assured, we constantly remind ourselves of those budget principles – and others – while balancing the needs of a growing community.

There’s no such thing as a perfect municipal budget, but we’re confident the 2020 budget will realistically address the needs of our community and the services it requires with the need to always be good stewards of the public’s money. As soon as the 2020 budget is approved, City employees and members of the council will turn their attention to the budget for 2021, and we’ll have those conversations all over again.

Sincerely, City Hall

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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