August 8, 2023
FARGO (KFGO) – The Fargo City Commission voted 4-1 to approve the mayor’s 2024 preliminary $120 million budget.
The proposed budget is 7.5% higher than last year, and includes a two-mill property tax increase and franchise fee hike.
The budget includes funding for 15 new firefighters as the city builds a new fire station, as well as six new police officers.
To fill gaps in the budget created by inflation and to support the added personnel, the budget assumes increases to property taxes and franchise fees for public utilities.
Commissioner Dave Piepkorn was the lone ‘no’ vote, but said he would support the budget if the mills were kept level and the utility tax increase was eliminated, calling them a burden on low-income people.
Piepkorn said he wants budget cuts. He pointed to Fargo being the sole funding source of certain programs.
“The Downtown Engagement Center was started during COVID. We had federal funding for that. We were told that was needed because the Cass County Jail was not accepting people. So, we had to have a place for them to go. COVID is over. The federal funding is gone. So, now, the Downtown Engagement Center – that’s going to be paid for by the City of Fargo,” Piepkorn said. “It’s a regional place, but it’s just paid for by the property taxes of the City of Fargo. That’s not right.”
Commissioner John Strand said, in order to have the safety the public is looking for, the needs have to be addressed.
“On a daily basis, we’re hearing from our citizens, ‘slow this traffic down. Stop these speeders. These loud, noisy motorcycle races have to stop,’” Strand said. “Then, we have other discussions. Commissioner Piepkorn led the effort on downtown safety. None of this is free.”
A public hearing on the budget is set for Monday, September 18 at City Hall.