The Bismarck City Commission approved the final 2023 budget and denied a request from Burleigh County for public health funding.
The commission made no changes to the preliminary budget approved in July and adopted it on Tuesday by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Greg Zenker and Mark Splonskowski voted against, saying they would have favored using of some of the city’s reservations for a factory tax reduction given the high rates of inflation.
The final budget emphasizes public safety, increases to retain city employees, cybersecurity, and equipment replacements within the city’s fleet. The budget for the coming year has no property tax increases.
The general fund budget — which is largely funded by property and sales taxes — is approximately $63 million. The preliminary total budget was $303 million, but city finance director Dmitriy Chernyak told the Tribune that a solid waste management project was eliminated, bringing the final total budget to $299 million. dollars.
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The 2022 general fund was approximately $71 million and the total budget was $330 million. The decrease in this year’s budget is due to projects funded in last year’s budget that are not included in the 2023 budget, according to Chernyak.
The city is still conducting a study on water rates, but Chernyak said it won’t change the budget in terms of revenue or expenditure. He added that the city could modify its rate structure based on the results of this study.
“The budget itself really hasn’t changed. As I said, we support police body cameras in the budget, which has been discussed in the community. We try to continue to meet cybersecurity needs,” he said. “We’ve been a bit behind on some of these things and we’re finally catching up, which is good.”
Public health financing
Bismarck and Burleigh County have put in place a joint powers agreement to fund Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health. Chernyak told the Tribune that the city recently asked the county to increase its annual contribution from about $214,000 for 2022 to about $332,000 for 2023.
Chernyak said the deal is supposed to be an 80-20 split, but the county only covers about 17%. He said an additional building and increased maintenance costs increased costs for the city.
“It became kind of a contentious negotiation, if you will,” he said, adding that the county continued to disagree. “I think it’s unreasonable because people in town end up paying a lot of money to cover services that are provided to people who live outside of town.”
Burleigh County asked the city to allow a 12% increase instead of a 20% increase for several positions. The county noted that the $332,000 proposal represents a 55% increase over its contribution last year. The city commission rejected the request on Tuesday via a 4-1 vote.
County Commissioner Becky Matthews worked with city and health officials on Bismarck-Burleigh’s public health budget. She told the Tribune that she was the only commissioner to support the city’s request during the preliminary budget season because she believes a lesser amount will hurt services for rural residents.
“My biggest concern through all of this is that we have to be very careful with the tax money we spend and I don’t take that lightly,” she said. “However, we also need to make sure our most vulnerable in the county get the care they need.”
She said the issue was “a bit controversial…and I don’t know how things are going to play out next week on Wednesday.”
Burleigh County will hold a public hearing on its final budget that day.
Contact Jackie Jahfetson at 701-250-8252 or [email protected]