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Early city budget shows $1M deficit for Dickinson

The city of Dickinson does not plan to raise its portion of property taxes, although state law may require it to send out a letter similar to the one Dickinson Public Schools sent out regarding the change in the property tax formula.

The city expects to collect around $4 million in property taxes in 2014, according to preliminary budget documents. It budgeted $3.4 million in 2013.

The Dickinson City Commission along with city staff sat down Monday morning at the Dickinson Area Public Library to discuss the 2014 budget.

"Because of the capital and because of the operations, this will be the largest budget that the city of Dickinson has ever undertaken," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

This was the first meeting the group had about the budget, which will be finalized in October.

"We're coming to you with a usage cap of $1 million," Kessel said. "What that means is that it's a deficit budget. This is not a balanced budget that I present to you today."

According to preliminary budget documents, the city expects to collect about $14 million and spend about $15 million in 2014. It expects to begin 2014 with more than $6 million in the general fund.

That would cover just the operating costs of the city.

"We have $80 million of additional projects at a minimum that we have to do in order to accommodate the growth that's coming to Dickinson," Kessel said.

These include water, sewer and street projects to keep up with all of the new construction.

There are new permits and fees coming online in 2014, as well as some proposed increases to some existing fees, including building permits.

The building permit fee is currently $30 for the first $1,000 of value and $3 for every $1,000 after that, Tina Johnson said. The proposed change is for $3.50 for each $1,000 up to $200,000, and $5 per $1,000 of value after that.

"The purpose of that is to -- the bigger projects that take the significant amount of staff time, takes the coordination, are projects that are over $200,000, so we feel that that additional time that it takes staff should be reflective on the more complex projects and not on the smaller, single-family residential projects," Courton said.

While the total number of permits will likely decline further, values will remain higher because of all the commercial development expected to come to Dickinson in the next few years, Courton said.

"I'm looking at the commercial side offsetting what's happening on the residential side," Courton said.

Once those developments are complete, the city can also expect an increase in sales tax revenue, Courton said.

"After we get a certain amount of big boxes, then the people that would have went to Bismarck will no longer go because we will have those retailers here and people will stay here," Courton said. "We will not have that loss of that sales tax."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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