2022 budget takes major step forward
The 2022 City of Minot budget took a major step forward this week when the City Council approved the budget on first reading.
The budget approved by Council is approximately $175.271 million, a reduction of nearly two mills from the initial budget presented to Council by City Manager Harold Stewart in early August. Several Council members expressed a desire to keep the City’s mill levy as flat as possible for 2022, and I think this budget accomplishes that. The mill levy for 2021 was 121.29; the mill levy in the approved 2022 budget is 121.69.
The removal of nearly two mills from the first version of the budget presented to Council this year represents a reduction of more than $400,000. The changes were accomplished by cutting the number of requested new positions and making other changes.
We must keep in mind that property taxes account for just 15 percent (roughly $26 million) of the entire budget. The City’s portion of the estimated property tax statements residents recently received from Ward County was based on very early figures. Since then, we have reduced our budget, and any rise in the City’s portion of the property tax bill will be based almost entirely on increases in property value; the .4 mill increase will have a minimal, if any, effect on property taxes.
In creating our budget for 2022, we were purposely mindful of the upcoming funding needs of the Minot Public School District. It’s our role as a community partner to keep our property tax level as low as possible to lessen the overall tax burden on our residents. We have no control over the budgets created by Ward County, the Minot Park District, or the public school district. Each of us are separate entities, although we certainly must be cognizant of each other’s impending needs, especially when those needs are critical to the future of our overall community. Construction of a second high school will impact Minot in a number of ways. A strong education system helps our city recruit top quality professionals in all sectors of the workforce, and will be a benefit for the families of Air Force members when they move to our community.
I want to thank City staff members who, in essence, are always in budget mode. While it’s true that the budget creation and approval process runs from early spring to late September, City department heads are tasked with always being mindful of the budget. We expect them to keep a watchful eye on the budget all year, saving money whenever possible as we continue to be good stewards of public funds. In fact, we saved more than $2 million as an organization in 2021 through cost-cutting measures, which helped us when creating the 2022 budget.
I’d also like to thank everyone who provided input to members of the Council or City staff members. Public input is vital to running an effective municipal government. We received some comments via email, during personal visits, and on the phone. Crafting a City budget is a year-round process, and having community input helps guide our decisions. In the end, no budget is likely to please everyone. Still, there must be open discussion, give-and-take, compromise, and concessions from everyone involved, and we’ve accomplished that this year.
The annual budget must be approved at two readings; the second and final reading of the 2022 budget will take place at the City Council meeting on Sept. 20. Even though the 2022 budget isn’t officially approved yet, I know discussions regarding the 2023 budget have already taken place among City staff members, especially department heads. Each year’s budget is not an entirely separate process that results in a stand-alone budget; rather, the next few years of budgets are intertwined. Changes made to the 2022 budget will have an impact on the 2023 budget and beyond.
We believe we have crafted a budget that prioritizes our needs and maintains quality services for our community, and yet does not significantly impact the tax burden for our residents. The process is transparent – the proposed budget has been presented and discussed in open meetings, it has been publicly available for scrutiny for more than a month, and residents were repeatedly encouraged to share their opinions with us.
While we are in the final stages of completing the 2022 budget, we will soon turn our attention to what the budget for 2023 might look like.
Sincerely, City Hall