(West Fargo, ND) -- The West Fargo City Commission says it will hold a public hearing for the 2023 City of West Fargo budget during their Monday, October 3rd regularly scheduled meeting.
The 2023 budget represents all departments’ efforts to provide the expected level of service while working to keep costs down in a difficult economy. Expenses across all funds rose 8% to $115.4 million in 2023. The total budget is funded through property taxes, sales taxes, investment income, use of reserves, public utilities and other sources like grants, fines, fees, licenses and permits. The City of West Fargo is one of multiple taxing entities in West Fargo property owners’ consolidated property tax statement.
Expenses paid through property taxes rose $4.25 million, but the City plans to only increase property taxes by $2.6 million. The City says it will balance the remaining costs with investment interest, use of general and special revenue fund reserves, and a projected increase in state aid and highway tax revenue.
The majority of the increase in expenses comes from public safety investments. In the West Fargo Police Department, the 2023 budget will cover additional patrol officers, a School Resource Officer, and a body-worn camera program. For the West Fargo Fire Department, the 2023 budget provides the funds to staff Engine Co. 76 at the new West Fargo Fire Department headquarters. This will be the first full-time company in the history of West Fargo located north of I-94. The company will be able to respond to fire, emergency medical and hazard calls for service year round.
City leaders expect public safety, which is funded through property taxes, to continue to require significant investment to maintain appropriate levels of service. To manage this issue for taxpayers, the City is proposing an increase in sales tax devoted to police and fire. Adding a half-cent sales tax will diversify the police and fire departments’ funding source and share the cost burden with visitors who also use the services.
To increase the sales tax, West Fargo residents will need to approve a change in the City’s sales and use tax ordinance during the November general election. Ballots will include two city measures asking for approval to increase the tax 0.5%. Voters would need to vote yes on both measures to approve the increase, which could only be used on police and fire operations, equipment and buildings. Any use of the sales tax funds would go before the West Fargo City Commission during the annual budget approval process.