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101 1st St NE
Box 12
Bowman, ND 58623-0012

BOWMAN RAISES PROPERTY TAXES: City Commission President explains state of city taxes and budget

September 26, 2014

By LYN JAMES | Bowman City Commission President

The month of August in each year is a challenging month for elected and appointed officials. There is an abundance of time spent preparing for and studying the details of the next year’s budgets.

The City of Bowman and its elected and appointed officials are no exception to this. Our Auditor’s Office works diligently to prepare for the Commissioners’ budget sessions, all while striving to get the daily city business done as well.

This year the City Commission worked on the 2015 budget during the final week of August. There was an abundance of discussion with the leadership of each department regarding their individual department budgets. Then came the general day to day operations budget, and consideration of the different public facilities and entities that are supported by the City of Bowman. Careful consideration was given to each and every line item, both on the income side as well as on the expense side of the equation.

After several days of such deliberation, it was concluded by the City Commission, in a unanimous vote, that the mill levy would remain virtually the same as 2014 (74.75 mills), with a total of 74.76 mills for 2015. Many properties here in Bowman have seen an increase in value, so the value of a mill has changed. Each year that data is compiled and provided to the city by the County Auditor. The 2014 mill value is $4,195, and the 2015 mill value is estimated to be $4,604.

The net increase in property tax collected will be approximately $30,625. This increase is broken down into two categories. The increase from new growth (properties that either had a tax exemption in previous years, or are simply new on the tax rolls) constitutes approximately $9,034, and the balance of approximately $21,591 will be asked of the folks who paid property taxes in 2014.

On Sept. 15, 2014, there was a public information meeting at City Hall to discuss the 2015 proposed budget. At that time, there was a presentation offered by the City Commission. There were approximately forty citizens at our public meeting. Following the presentation, the citizens were invited to speak. There were several questions, all of which had terrific merit. All of them were asked and answered by the City Commission. The entire content will be available on the Consolidated Public Access channel on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, at 6 p.m.; Sept. 27 and Oct. 4 at 10 a.m.; and Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 at 1 p.m.

The following are some examples that were shared with the attendees about our 2015 budget:

The 2015 city day to day operation expenses are anticipated to be $2,539, 995. The total property tax funding requested is $344,195.00 (13 percent), and the general revenue from other sources will be $2,195,800 (87 percent).

To put the property tax collection into perspective, the City Commission presented some information on operations that are very important to the wellbeing of the citizens in this community. The Street Department budget expense is $327,350 for 2015. The Street Department not only deals with the maintenance and snow removal on our streets, but provides the man power for our city wide clean up, they assist the water and sewer departments, as well as assistance at the landfill as needed. The Landfill Department budget is $29,100, and is offset by $9,000 in fees collected, leaving the balance of $20,100 to be funded. Public Safety 2015 expense is $439,725, and has a three-prong aspect with regards to the city budget: the Police Department budget will be $353,225, the Fire Department will be supported to the tune of $46,500, and the street light expense is right at $40,000.00.

Other factors affecting the 2015 budget are diseased tree removal, golf course road repairs (shared with County and Golf Course), a Safe Routes to School sidewalk project, the Northside Addition drainage project, tire grinding at the landfill, increased professional fees (due to the increase in proposed projects and issues), an additional police officer (to reduce overtime and burnout), and also a reduction in the amount the city receives into its Road and Bridge Fund. These items total $274,300, and were new items that were not included in the 2014 budget.

The day to day operations of the city’s enterprise funds are self- supporting, and are not included in the $2,539,995 budget I referenced above, but I believe it is notable to share their 2015 budgets as well. The Water Department budget is $331,330, the Sewer Department budget is $103,175, the Vector Department (mosquito control) budget is $12,000, and the Refuse Department (garbage) budget is $573,097.

Chip seal, which is done on a rotation for street maintenance, is another interesting expense. In the years 2004/2005, the city’s chip seal project cost $165,463. In 2012/2013, that exact same project cost $461,000. Consequently, it is very important that there are adequate funds put away annually toward the next scheduled chip seal which will be in five to eight years, depending on the condition of the streets. Most cities in North Dakota do special assessments to each property owner for this type of maintenance. Bowman’s leadership has worked diligently over the years to budget for this type of project in order to avoid specially assessing the property owners. The current City Commission would like to continue in that manner if at all possible.

I appreciate the opportunity to write about this very important subject. I take my elected position very seriously and care deeply about the wellbeing of the citizens of Bowman.