Minot city council members this week passed on first reading a $168 million budget for 2013 that includes 31.5 new staff positions. The budget must be approved on a second reading, and we wonder how much, if anything, will change before the budget is finalized.
Three aldermen Dean Frantsvog, Scott Knudsvig and Milt Miller voted against the budget, citing various reasons including too many new staff positions, increased property taxes and hikes in water, garbage and sewer rates. Their concerns, and others, are valid and the issues should continue to be discussed until the budget is ultimately approved.
We absolutely understand many of the city's needs addressed in the 2013 budget. We believe the city does need more police officers and more firemen, but we wonder if some of the other positions could be phased in over a period of a few years rather than all at once. While we're not going to nitpick and question the proposed new positions individually, we agree with the aldermen who voted against the budget in that the proposal might represent too much of a financial burden to impose upon the city's residents all at one time.
As we've said before, the city won't be the only entity seeking additional funds through taxes in the coming months. The county wants a new sales tax, the Minot Public School District may need to raise its mills to help pay for changes the district. Our concern remains the same: Much of that burden will fall to residents of this city in the form of property taxes and a sales tax, and there are residents who simply cannot afford to live in Minot if taxes continue to rise along with other basics, like rent or housing prices.
The city budget is likely to be approved on second reading without major changes. But we hope aldermen at least put serious thought and discussion into the process before arriving at that final document. The citizens of Minot deserve that much.