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Council to consider 128-percent tax increase

The Billings County Pioneer of Medora, North Dakota

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BELFIELD — Another whopping tax increase could be in store for Belfield residents.

Property owners were recently informed of a meeting that is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, at City Hall. The topic will be the city's proposed 2016 operating budget, which may come with a 128-percent increase in city taxes. This excludes the special assessments for this year's street work, which will be assessed separately.

The levy at issue is for the city's general fund. Unless new sources of revenue are found or it's determined other revenue can be revised upward, or if cuts in expenditures can't be made, the increase would be certain.

Revenues for the general fund include property taxes, sales taxes, licenses and building permits, aid from the state, oil and gas production taxes, and other sources, for a 2016 estimated total of $921395.

A significant change in recent months has been a decline in oil and gas production taxes. In 2014, the city received $774,125 from oil and gas, but that figure for 2016 is estimated at $250,000.

Estimated general fund expenses listed for 2016 include salaries for the council, $6,000; city auditor, $42,500; general legal fees, $75,000; plus costs to maintain or operate the new City Hall, the city shop, Memorial Hall, theater, and Fire Hall, insurance costs, and other costs for a total of $329,000.

The estimated costs of running the police department — which include everything from salaries to training and vehicle expenses is estimated at $811,100 in 2016.

Tax levies aren't planned for street maintenance since that is funded by sales taxes and state money. The cost of street lighting is assessed to residents' monthly city utility bills. Royalties from the three oil wells that are under the city also go into the street fund.

Other funds such as water and sewer are supported by the monthly bills to residents.

Next year could also bring some rate increases in sewer, water and refuse charges because expenditures for each of those funds is projected to exceed revenues. The budget includes notations of the need to raise the rates for those services.

For residents interested in figuring what the 128-percent increase would mean on their tax bills, one method is to use the figure for the city's portion on last year's tax bill, and multiply that by 128 percent. For example, a resident who paid $250 in city taxes last year, would pay $320 in city taxes for the new year. ($250 x 128% = $320)

Copyright 2015 The Billings County Pioneer, Medora, North Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: September 24, 2015

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