City Commission meeting focuses on budget

Chuck Wickenhofer
Devils Lake City Commission discusses budget

The Devils Lake City Commission met Tuesday for its biweekly meeting after the President’s Day holiday.

The primary focus of the meeting was City Manager Terry Johnston’s report on the city budget, which is now projected to run a deficit.

The issue is the budget projection for the state through next July, which is down 26 percent. The decrease in oil revenue is the culprit, as oil prices have cratered.

Devils Lake receives four tenths of a percent of the state’s sales tax haul every three months, which translates to roughly a $300,000 deficit through next July, according to Johnston. 30 percent of that amount goes to the park board, leaving about $200,000 out of the city’s budget.

Johnston also reported that roughly 75 percent of the city’s budget goes to salary and benefits to city staff.

However, Johnston pointed out that low gas prices are projected to save the city between $30,000 and $40,000. That, along with a projected payment from Eagles Ledge in order to satisfy their portion of a due diligence report related to their proposed refinery, would restore $100,000 to the budget.

Also, Johnston reported that the city has just under $3,000,000 in the general fund.

Another $25,000 was reportedly saved in street repairs, as $175,000 was budgeted, while about $150,000 was actually spent.

Hotel liquor license discussions continued to progress, as the commission set the minimum bed requirement for a Class VIII liquor license at 20.

Final approval for the new K-9 unit, which will serve as a drug dog, passed. The amount budgeted for the K-9 is $10,000, which covers training and other related costs.

A five-year property tax exemption was approved for Traynor Properties, LLC, which is spending $100,000 on renovations. North Dakota state law allows for such an exemption.

Sanitation Commissioner Craig Stromme’s report indicated that the roof work on the sanitation building has been completed, and will be ready for use after final inspection.

“I’d rather get (the inspection) done sooner than later,” Mayor Richard Johnson said.

Two of the five city commissioners were absent from Tuesday’s meeting, though Commissioner Tim Heisler was able to conference in by phone.