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Williston city officials discuss recently approved 2022 budget

City Commissioners approved the budget Tuesday night
City Commissioners approved the budget Tuesday night(KFYR)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. - Optimistic and conservative. Those were the words used by officials to describe Williston’s Budget for 2022.

“Overall, I think it’s a pretty healthy and typical budget process,” said Finance Director Hercules Cummings.

Compared to 2021, there isn’t much change in this year’s budget other than an increase in expenses from $147 million to $153 million and a decrease in revenue from $129 million to $125 million. Included in the budget are funds for construction at Williston Square, which officials believe will bring in more money down the line.

“The visual appeal of seeing vertical construction there is a pretty big game-changer. We’ve been talking about the improvements that are coming and talking a lot about the brands and the names. It’s something different entirely to see it,” said City Administrator David Tuan.

Cummings says taxpayers won’t see any drastic increases to their property taxes in 2022, but utility costs will go up to help cover their operating costs. Despite this, he says you won’t find lower prices anywhere nearby.

“Even with the adjustments in the utility, we would still be one the lowest not just in the state, but probably in the circumference of 500 miles and our neighboring states as well,” said Cummings.

Sales tax is one of Williston’s primary revenue sources. Thanks to a record number of new and expanding businesses over this year, City Administrator David Tuan says he has a positive outlook.

“We’ve shown some pretty strong resilience over this last year in small business and it’s been one of our most active years through the economic development department that we have ever had which is really shocking. It’s a good sign that maybe we can weather the storm if things get worse,” said Tuan.

The budget also includes about $22 million from the state through the gross production tax, which the city uses to subsidize property taxes.

“The reason why we are able to keep or suppress it that low is because of the gross production tax that’s able to lower the property tax,” said Cummings.

Cummings says he feels even though the city faces an uncertain and unpredictable future due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are in great shape and are well equipped to handle a worst-case scenario.

City officials say their financial information is available year-round through a program called PublicView. You can view it here.

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