City of Moorhead Trying to Balance 2014 Operating Budget - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

City of Moorhead Trying to Balance 2014 Operating Budget

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The city of Moorhead is looking at a $342,000 gap in its operating budget with an approaching deadline.

The city used last year's budget plus expenditure and revenue increases and decreases to make an estimation.

"We generally start with the previous year's budget and we know there are certain items that are beyond our control, that there are increases in, that we just have to accommodate," says City of Moorhead Finance Director Wanda Wagner.

The city is looking into different options, including a streetlight utility fee to pay electricity costs.

"As other communities have done when revenues are difficult to come by, they have established a streetlight utility to kind of offset some of that cost," she says.

That's one way to bridge the gap. The city also estimates an 11.3 percent levy increase to be paid toward city debt. They say that making spending reductions to cover the gap could mean a last resort of cutting tax-supported services.

"Maybe snow removal wouldn't be done as quickly or it would require a larger snow event to remove snow," says Wagner.

While Moorhead citizens will be paying more money one way or the other, some city employees will still be receiving a salary increase. The city feels that cutting these increases would compromise the city long-term.

"I don't know that you can keep asking staff to not be compensated at the same level as other regional areas. It's a difficult thing to keep asking staff to do that. At the point we're at there's gotten to be a lot of staff turn over and vacancies," she says.

Wagner says people should start taking more responsibility for their tax-supported services.

"I think it's just a fact of life. The cost for every service increases. Costs just go up," says Wagner. "There needs to be a longer term, sustainable plan to balance revenues and expenditures," she says.


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