Connect with us

North Dakota

Burleigh County Commission discusses the budget and considers tax increases to close the shortfall



Bismarck, North Dakota – The Burleigh County Commission got together to conduct an informal discussion about the projected budget for 2024. They examined ways to reduce the income and spending gap because they expect the budget to be in deficit.

The operational budget for Burleigh County has been negative for the last three years. The situation is much worse when you consider that, according to one Burleigh County Commissioner, the overall deficit for those three years was $13 million. They claim they used reserve monies to make up the shortfall.

“And it’s been coming out of reserves, and we can’t just keep depleting them. We’ve got to start raising taxes essentially is what it’s going to have to be and cut expenses at the same time so we can balance the budget,” said Burleigh County Commissioner Jerry Woodcox.

They claim that the $5.5 million shortfall this year is the result of higher inflation in all areas of their budget as well as lower-than-expected revenue. To avoid using reserve funds for another year, the commission examined options like selling county-owned property.

“So, we do not go into our reserve funds, we will need to look at either getting rid of some assets or increasing taxes. That is some of the information we went over tonight. I’m not sure what the whole commission will want to do,” said Burleigh County Chairperson Becky Matthews.

Most commissioners did not like the concept of selling property because they thought it was a quick fix. 52% of the overall budget, or around $16.7 million, is still in the reserve fund, but commissioners warned taxpayers to expect a tax increase.

The Burleigh County Commission would need to raise the mill levy by eight to ten mills to make up the shortfall if they were to proceed with the present budget without making any changes or selling any assets. A ten-mill increase would cost around $135 per year on a $300,000 house. They agreed to meet again on May 1 to continue discussing budget ideas as they finished the discussion.