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City commission approves first reading of 2017 budget

The Dickinson City Commission approved the first reading of the 2017 city budget, which features a balanced general fund of more than $16.7 million. Oil-impact transfers into the general fund are currently set at $3.2 million. However, City Admin...

Commissioners Klayton Oltmanns and Sarah Jennings listen to a presentation about the 2017 Dickinson Municipal Budget during a regular city commission meeting on Tuesday. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)
Commissioners Klayton Oltmanns and Sarah Jennings listen to a presentation about the 2017 Dickinson Municipal Budget during a regular city commission meeting on Tuesday. (Press Photo by Sydney Mook)

The Dickinson City Commission approved the first reading of the 2017 city budget, which features a balanced general fund of more than $16.7 million.

Oil-impact transfers into the general fund are currently set at $3.2 million. However, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said he would like to see that number decrease to $2.8 million or below.

Kessel said the budget has continued to decrease over the past couple of years, but if the city becomes dependent on the oil revenue, it could make things difficult for the city down the road.

"Our dependency on that oil revenue is difficult because, in the end, we don't control it," Kessel said. "That revenue stream is out of our hands. ... So, to create a dependency on us leaves us at risk-if there are changes whether they're significant or small-to volatility."

There are no layoffs planned for the 2017 budget, but Kessel said there was removal of four requests for increases to city staff, including the removal for a request for a drug task force officer from the police department and a street operator from the street department, among others.

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Kessel said the city is looking at scenarios regarding "skill-based pay" and in regard to wage increases for staff.

"Those are all very significant and make a big difference in terms of making this budget align in balance," Kessel said. He added that there are currently no plans to increase property tax on the city's part. Though there are other entities which also have control over property taxes, including county, school, and the parks and recreation department.

The second reading and final passage of the budget will take place at the commission meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, with a public hearing to be held at the Sept. 19 meeting. Kessel encouraged residents to be a part of the public hearing as they have not heard public comment on the matter in the past couple of years.

 

Commission approves letter of support

Members of the Affordable Housing Developers Inc. presented a letter of support to the commission for a tax credit application to purchase and rehab The Arc Southview property.

The commission approved the letter unanimously.

The facility is currently a 24-unit building for low-income individuals with disabilities.

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The group worked with The Arc of Dickinson to do a capital needs assessment to go over what needs to be done to update the building, which would include replacing the appliances, update the flooring and painting the walls, as well as some foundation work and updating boilers and ventilation throughout the building. They believe the project would cost around $1 million.

Ninetta Wandler, president of the Affordable Housing Developers Inc., said residents would not be evicted from their homes during renovations, should they get the tax credit. They would be moved into nearby apartments or hotels at no cost to the resident.

The low-income housing tax credit is a competitive tax credit.

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