Wahpeton council approves preliminary ’21 mill levy

Wahpeton's 2021 budget can now be reduced prior to its scheduled adoption on Monday, Sept. 21, but it cannot be increased.

With a unanimous vote, the Wahpeton City Council approved a preliminary mill levy for 2021.

The city is expected to, for the 10th consecutive year, hold level the number of mills levied for city services, 95.33 mills total. Approval of the preliminary levy was made during a Monday, July 27 council meeting.

By approving the preliminary mill levy, the council has completed a key component of the process for its 2021 budget. The budget can now be reduced prior to its scheduled adoption on Monday, Sept. 21, but it cannot be increased.

The preliminary budget is now available at the city of Wahpeton’s website. Several variables influenced forecasting, Finance Director Darcie Huwe said Monday. They include declining economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, increase in the overall property tax valuation (the value of a mill) and an increase in opportunities to use resources differently.

Property taxes will represent 17 percent of all city revenues before transfers, council members learned. Sales taxes will represent 20 percent of all city revenues.

“Special assessments represent 7 percent of all city revenue before transfers,” Huwe wrote. “We are 100 percent committed to debt service. The revenue from assessments is down $169,675, or 17 percent, from 2020.”

If a home has a $200,000 value, council members read, the property tax amount for city services is an estimated $68 per month. If the home’s value increased by 5 percent, the new amount is an estimated $71.40 per month.

“Our water, sewer, vector control and streetlight rates remain unchanged since Jan. 1, 2018,” Huwe said.

The 2021 budget is forecast to include a $22,398 decrease in general fund expenses.

“Central government activities are included in the general fund budget,” Huwe wrote. “Operational expenses for council, city hall, assessing, municipal court, city attorney, insurance and miscellaneous departments are included.”

The 2021 expense budgets for those departments decreased $7,760, the preliminary budget stated. This is primarily due to the decrease in the revenue sharing formula for state aid, shared with the Wahpeton Park Board.

“The general fund budget for general government departments for 2021 is $22,398 less than the current year’s budget and is considered a ‘hold level budget’ at $1,117,217,” Huwe said.

Public safety expenses for Wahpeton’s police and fire departments, meanwhile, are projected to decrease $4,292 in 2021.

Certification of Wahpeton’s property tax levy is due by Monday, Aug. 10. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Wahpeton residents and visitors are reminded that calling 701-553-8600 and entering the code 19001 allows them to attend a city council or subcommittee meeting via telephone.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3 at Wahpeton City Hall and telephonically.

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