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City finalizes $79 million budget for 2020

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Deputy City Administrator Linda Carlson, center, details the finalized 2020 city budget at a special meeting of city commissioners Wednesday. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson City Commissioners Wednesday finalized the city's 2020 budget at $78.9 million, an increase from this year's $71.6 million budget.

The budget increase is due to several factors: the proposed new wage scale for city employees; sales tax expenditures for quality of life projects; and oil impact funding for capital improvement projects, annual maintenance and highway reconstruction.

The balanced general fund budget proposed is $20.3 million, an increase from this year's budget of roughly $19.2 million.

More than $30.8 million in capital improvement projects are planned for 2020, an increase from the $22.7 million budgeted for this year.

A key effort for the city will be adequately funding street improvements and reconstruction of city streets.

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The city plans to levy 48.12 mills for the general fund, an increase from the 45.97 mills levied for 2019.

The 2020 levy includes four mills each for Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport and Dickinson Public Library.

The estimated valuation for 2020 is $118.9 million, a decrease from the $124.5 million taxable valuation amount budgeted in 2019.

Property tax relief is budgeted at $2 million for 2020. The amount was previously budgeted in the city street fund.

"We moved most of the money that's going to support the street fund into the oil impact money," Deputy City Administrator Linda Carlson said. "Those are projects that that's what the money is for."

Roughly the same amount is budgeted for property tax relief through 2025.

Carlson anticipates $4.3 million in oil impact funds going into the city general fund in 2020, and $4.5 million for annual street projects.

"If revenues in general fund become more than what we expected, this amount lowers," she explained.

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The budget also includes expenditures that may not be finished that may start in 2020, but not be finished until the next year. For example, landfill acquisition at $2 million.

One placeholder sales tax expense is a proposed event center, at $825,000 in 2020.

"If the event center doesn't go and we decide we're looking at a major sponsor to be able to do this, this rolls back into the rolling fund," Carlson said.

Further event center expenses are projected for 2021-2023 totaling $4.3 million more.

The city has also budgeted $500,000 subsidies in 2020 each to planned Friendship Park and Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport for its runway reconstruction project.

Improvements to the city mausoleum and veteran's cemetery are budgeted at $500,000.

Debt reduction remains a primary concern for the city.

In 2019, the reduced its debt to $81.3 million from the 2018 total of $87.2 million.

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The debt will be further reduced to $78 million in 2020.

The city faces a number of challenges in the next few years, including funding and constructing quality of life projects, street improvements and reconstructions, and adequate funding of city capital and capital equipment needs.

"We need to look at increasing our sales tax," Carlson said. "We need the revenues for the city to operate how we need to for public safety and our operations. And property tax relief. We just have not done anything with our property tax."

A public hearing on the 2020 city budget will be held at the City Commissioners meeting on Sept. 17, with commissioners taking action on the item on Oct. 1.

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