Mill rate steady, utilities to increase under Mayor Brown's 2014 budgetGrand Forks Mayor Mike Brown won’t be seeking a property tax increase in his proposed 2014 city budget, which is up for review by the City Council tonight.
By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown won’t be seeking a property tax increase in his proposed 2014 city budget, which is up for review by the City Council tonight.
The council can choose to give preliminary approval to the proposal. Once this approval is given, the budget can be decreased but not increased.
Under the mayor’s proposal, the city’s property tax rate will remain the same at about 110 mills, but information from the city assessor’s office indicates property valuations are expected to increase by an average of about 3 percent.
That means even with no rate increase, residents would still see an increase in taxes. The amount of money the city will raise from those property taxes is predicted to increase from $11.3 million this year to $11.8 million in 2014.
But property tax relief passed by the state Legislature this year could have residents seeing a discount on their tax bill.
For example, the owner of a $100,000 home can expect to pay $494 for the city portion of their property tax bill, according to city finance director Maureen Storstad.
“Of that total bill, 12 percent of that will be paid by the state,” she said at a council budget briefing Aug. 26. “So you, the taxpayer, will pay $435 of that $494.”
The discount could get deeper on residents’ overall tax bill with additional relief coming from a state buydown of school district property taxes. The buydown is 50 mills but Grand Forks Public Schools’ $6 million deficit could have the School Board passing on a 28-mill reduction instead.
Though the property tax rate won’t increase, the same can’t be said for utility rates.
Overall, utility bills would increase an estimated 7.25 percent next year in the budget proposal. That’s about $4.59 more added to the average 4,000-gallon user’s utility bill of $63.44.
The increases come as a means of raising money for large public works projects coming down the road, the most costly of which would be a new $133 million water treatment plant.
City employees also would receive on average a 3.1 percent raise based on their job performance, market wage rates or both under the budget proposal.
Overall, Grand Forks’ general fund budget — the main operating fund for the city — would rise to $34.7 million, a 5 percent increase from 2013. The budget is balanced, according to Storstad, and would leave a total of $6 million in the general fund as reserve money.
On the web
View the city’s preliminary budget presentations, a sample utility bill including the proposed rate increases and other budget information at http://bit.ly/Pv0gyh.
Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @GFCityBeat or on her blog at citystreetbeat.areavoices.com.