Mandan News

Mandan OKs 2014 budget; may drop liquor license limits

By LeAnn Eckroth

MANDAN, N.D. –The Mandan City Commission on Tuesday approved its 2014 budget of $26.8 million and proposed lifting all liquor license limits.

In next year’s budget, commissioners dropped the city mill levy to 82.61 mills – 11 mills less than one year ago.

Commissioners approved using $4.2 million in property taxes to run the city next year – $3.2 million for general fund needs and the rest for the library, the airport, special assessments, debt and share in costs of Bis-Man Transit busing.

City Finance Director Greg Welch said the owner of a $200,000 home will pay $48 less for city property taxes. Yet commissioners also increased base water bills by $3.50 per month next year, for an annual increase of $42.

The budget will add a dozen new workers – five police officers (including one warrants officer) four paid firefighters, an assistant finance director, a shared administrator/community development director and one city maintenance worker. The budget raises city employees’ pay to a range that is 95 percent of what Bismarck city staff makes.

About $1.27 million in sales tax revenue will be used to buy down property taxes.

Citizen Wayne Papke criticized the budget, saying spending increased by 14 percent and the city shouldn’t have used visitor funds from sales tax revenue to help the park district buy land for a new YMCA.

Liquor licenses
In three votes, the commission proposed dramatic changes to how it issues liquor licenses.
Staff was directed to draft an ordinance that drops limits on all liquor license categories, but sets a special minimum installment fees for each new license in.

In related action, commissioners:
* Revised its Class A on and off sale license to require seating for at least 30 people.
* Made all D-1 liquor licenses unlimited, but set a minimum installment fee of $35,000. These are for off-sale wine and beer licenses.

The three votes basically flipped the policy commissioners adopted in 2012 that would allow a new liquor license for every 500 new households built in the city. City Administrator Jim Neubauer said commissioners were confident that using a minimum installment fee for each new liquor license and the annual fee would still give the city revenue. The number of liquor licenses would still be market-driven if the new ordinances are approved, he said.