One month until adoption

A budget can be decreased after its first reading. It cannot be increased. Because of this, financial personnel are recommending city council members and county commissioners get familiar with the ins and outs.

With approximately a month before the expected adoptions of their 2020 budgets, leaders in Wahpeton and Richland County, North Dakota, are continuing to scrutinize details.

First reading of Wahpeton’s budget ordinance is expected for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3. A final budget hearing and adoption is expected for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16.

First reading of Richland County’s budget and a final budget hearing have not been scheduled as of Wednesday, Aug. 14.

A budget can be decreased after its first reading. It cannot be increased. Because of this, financial personnel are recommending city council members and county commissioners get familiar with the ins and outs.

With a 5-0 vote Tuesday, Aug. 13, the Richland County Board of Commissioners approved preliminary mill levies for 2019-2020. These would be in effect for taxes paid in 2020.

A mill levy is a property tax based on a property’s assessed value. The tax’s rate is expressed in mills. One mill equals $1 per every $1,000 of assessed value.

Richland County is projected to levy 102.88 total mills, or 99.88 mills within the county itself and three mills for state levies. The county allotment includes 60 mills for the general fund, up from 56.05 last year. The decrease occurred because of a change in social service funding.

The general fund increase for the coming year is necessary, Richland County Auditor Leslie Hage said, because it will partially fund the county’s social services department.

Richland County’s veterans service office will be funded by the levying of 1.63 mills, up from 0.85 mills last year. The levy increase permits the office to pay for its additional employee.

“We do not want to miss the opportunity to help a veteran in our community,” Veterans Service Officer Mary Vetter said in May.

A mill levy can be decreased without the requirement that a second mill levy needs to be increased. When they’re submitted at a higher or maximum allotment, Hage explained, they can only go downward.

Several state and federal funding entities are incorporating U.S. Census counts in their allocation formulas, Daily News previously reported. Both Wahpeton and Richland County are eager for full participation in the 2020 census.

“This area has a tradition of 75 percent participation,” Wahpeton Finance Director Darcie Huwe said in July. “When it comes to funding, that’s not a good thing.”

The next city council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

The next commissioners meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Richland County Courthouse, 418 Second Ave. N. in Wahpeton.

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