I like visiting Minot, but I’m sure happy that I don’t live there. If the city’s preliminary budget becomes a reality, then I’m guessing there’ll be a few property owners who question why they live there too. According to a report from the Minot Daily News yesterday, the Minot City Council is considering a budget that would not only increase property taxes by 18.5%, but the overall 2019 budget would increase by $37 million as well.
According to the Minot Daily News:
“The $180 million preliminary budget is up $37 million from this year. City Manager Tom Barry explained the increase is due to spending on the Northwest Area Water Supply Project and $4.9 million in spending on the flood protection projection beyond 2018 spending. In addition, the city projects spending $10.5 million on property acquisitions for flood protection.”
The Minot Daily News article caused me to be curious about the proposed 2019 budget in comparison to their 2009 budget. I wondered how much things had increased over the period of the last 10 years for the City of Minot. A quick look at the city’s archives immediately produced the answer.
In 2009, their budget was just over $63.1 million for a city with a population of 36,282. With a proposed budget of $180 million for 2019, that represents an increase of 396.1% over the course of the last 10 years. Now, lest someone point to the population growth of Minot, I will tell you that according to the most recent numbers (2016), the population was 48,743. That’s an increase of 34.3%. Which means that the budget has outpaced population growth by more than ten times.
When it comes to budgets and spending, we often view our state government with a critical eye— and rightfully so. But what we see here in Minot is not an isolated case. Across the state, we see city after city and county after county who have budgets that have far exceeded their population growth. And overall it seems that property owners are always the ones to see large increases. As the Minot Daily article clearly illustrates, it’s the all too common tax shift.
Aside from all that goes on in Bismarck, let’s not forget what’s going on right under our noses with our own local governments. For the citizens of Minot, they may want to do some budget comparisons and start asking a lot of questions. After all, they’re the ones paying for this.