We're not surprised the Minot City Council passed its $168 million budget Monday night without making any adjustments. A bit disappointed, perhaps, but not at all surprised.
The final approval came via a 10-3 vote, with the same three aldermen Milt Miller, Scott Knudsvig and Dean Frantsvog voting against the budget for a second time. The majority obviously felt the budget was responsible and necessary to continue to provide Minot residents with an appropriate level of services.
The majority rejected attempts by Knudsvig and Blake Krabseth to reduce some funding for street improvements, shot down a move by Frantsvog to reduce the proposed 31.5 new employee positions to 15, and moved ahead with the budget amid concern about rising property taxes from Mayor Curt Zimbelman and others.
As we've said repeatedly, we understand that the need for some of the new positions is particularly urgent, especially within the police and fire departments. The city is growing in population and in physical size, and the need for public safety demands growth in those departments. Other items, such as the proposed $2 million for street improvements, probably could be increased given the condition of streets around the city.
As much as the increase in the overall budget and the accompanying jump in property taxes are issues of great concern, perhaps what concerns us the most is the overall feeling that this budget was a done deal as soon as it was introduced. There was discussion, for instance, about reducing the number of new employees, but nothing was changed. There was talk of trimming other expenditures, but nothing was approved. We fully understand that's how the budget process works, but we also wonder if there was enough serious weight given to the growing concerns over rising property taxes and the budget's effects on the citizens of Minot.
Ten Minot city council members approved a $168 million budget they obviously thought was necessary and responsible. We hope they're right.