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Grand Forks City Council gets first look at budgets for several city services

The 2017 city budget planning process continues for the Grand Forks City Council, with its members getting their first look at proposed operating budgets for several city services.

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The 2017 city budget planning process continues for the Grand Forks City Council, with its members getting their first look at proposed operating budgets for several city services.

Emergency services in the city will see an increase in funding, both from the city and a fee increase passed by public vote in June.

The Public Safety Answering Point, which handles calls for service and emergency assistance in Grand Forks County, saw a continued increase in call volume in 2015. The numbers are consistent with a trend the center has posted since 2011.

"I feel like a broken record, I keep talking about it, but it really has an impact on not only our department but for all of our departments that we service," PSAP Director Becky Ault said.

The center's two funds - an operating fund and a 911 services fund - are expected to end 2017 with cash leftover, which for the 911 system means money will be available to purchase or upgrade technology necessary to providing the service.

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A 50-cent increase to the prior 911 fee collected from county residents passed in June and is projected to give the fund a $363,000 boost.

Also managed through a city-county effort, Grand Forks Emergency Management could see a slight uptick in its city contribution, increasing from $48,500 this year to $52,700 next year. The department handles emergency management services within Grand Forks County that include preparing for and responding to natural and manmade hazards.

Other services

Animal control: Receiving a significant boost in this year's city budget would be animal control services. The city contracts with local animal shelter Circle of Friends Humane Society to provide the service of city pound.

The city is projecting a $157,600 revenue for the service, about an 8 percent increase over this year. The shelter has seen operating costs rise around 20 percent this year, Board of Directors member Frank Matejcek told the council.

As part of the animal control budget, the city would change its fees for impounded animals from $35 flat to return an licensed or unlicensed animal to its owner to $25 for a licensed animal and $50 for an unlicensed one. City law requires residents to license their pets.

Public library: The Grand Forks Public Library, which receives a portion of its budget from the city and county, is projected a breakeven year for its $2.8 million operating budget - $1.9 million of which comes from the city tax rolls.

The library's capital maintenance fund, which covers costs of unusual repairs such as replacing an air conditioning unit, is expected to take a $100,000 hit but have a remaining balance of $301,000.

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Library Director Wendy Wendt said event attendance at the library continues to climb, with 677 events held and 16,341 people attending them in 2015.

Airport: With the loss of FedEx, the Grand Forks International Airport is projecting a revenue loss but one matched by a decrease in expenditures.

The airport, which expects to receive $861,000 in city tax dollars, is predicted to end the year with $3.9 million revenue and $3.4 million in expenses.

Airport Executive Director Ryan Riesinger said the airport is in the midst of a master planning process that will identify major projects and their funding sources, including the replacement of its primary runway.

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