Fargo Is a Safe Community:
Downtown Fargo is the vibrant core of our community and a regional epicenter for arts, entertainment and commerce. The safety of our residents and visitors in every area of our city, including Downtown Fargo, is the highest priority for this City Commission.
We have seen instances of tragic crimes in our community recently which, while rare, are jolting to our close-knit metro. I can wholeheartedly reiterate to everyone that Fargo is safe for people of all ages and walks of life.
I am proud of the diligent work of the Fargo Police Department, which plays a vital role by incorporating community-centric, intelligent policing strategies. Acts of random violence are rare in Fargo, even when considering our growth into a true metropolitan area. Many times when a violent act is committed, it has been discovered the involved parties knew each other and the crimes were not random.
The City is committed to ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors in Downtown Fargo by fostering a spirit of cooperation, partnership and vigilance between all parties. I have visited many downtowns across America. I have seen the deterioration of the cores of those cities. We will not let those things to happen in our community – our expectations and standards will not allow it.
The Fargo Police Department is Devoted to Protecting and Serving Fargo:
Fargo Police Chief Dave Todd and the Fargo Police Department are committed to a safe community. We have amplified officer presence in the downtown area and foot patrols will be increased. Person-to-person contact, building relationships and deterring poor behavior will be the core missions of these officers.
The Fargo Police Department continues to actively investigate the homicide of Jay Halvorson on June 7 and two individuals have been arrested in connection with the case. It appears there was an interaction between the suspects and victim prior to the shooting. It does not appear this involved the victim’s business ventures in downtown. Multiple detectives are still following up on leads to garner more information in order to know more about what happened.
The Downtown Community Partnership & Business Improvement District are Leaders:
The Downtown Community Partnership (DCP) and Business Improvement District (BID) are tremendous partners. They have formed a Downtown Safety Committee with representation from every block on Broadway from Main to 6th Avenue North, and at least one representative from each of the outlying zones. Also included are the Fargo Police, the FM Homeless Coalition, NDSU Student body and Downtown residents. This committee is actively working to keep Downtown Fargo safe and on track.
Liquor Licenses Are a Privilege, Not a Right:
The Fargo Liquor Control Board is tasked not only with issuing new licenses, but also with ensuring current liquor license holders meet the requirements to retain their license. There have been a handful of businesses which consume a large amount of time and effort by law enforcement and I will be suggesting the Liquor Control Board schedule public meetings with these license holders to formulate a plan of action for improvement.
If successful improvements are not seen, the City has the right to suspend and then potentially revoke liquor licenses. All options will be on the table. We may also need to have a conversation on the potential of discontinuing ‘off-sale’ alcohol purchases in the Downtown area.
The City of Fargo Needs Partners in Maintaining Excellent Neighborhoods:
Just like in every venture, the City of Fargo needs partners to help achieve its goals. We are asking residents to help us improve this community. We offer programs such as the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative to rehabilitate homes. This has allowed us to help invest millions of dollars into improving neighborhoods. We’re always looking for more community partners in this venture but, due to low interest rates offered in the private lending sector, we didn’t even expend all of the funds in this loan pool from Gate City last year.
We cannot possibly see everything in this community. If something seems amiss or wrong, we need to know about it. The Fargo Police Department implores residents to report anything suspicious. Your City Commissioners and City staff are here to assist as well.
The Kilbourne Group has been working diligently with the neighbors to redevelop the Sahr’s Sudden Service property. Over 20 public community events have been held on this property in the past several months. Kilbourne is committed to removing the former service station this fall and working towards an effective neighborhood-centric alternative in its place.
Fargo Has Demonstrated a Financial Commitment to Residents and Public Safety Employees:
The Fargo City Commission recently implemented the recommendations of a public safety salary analysis to ensure the Fargo Police and Fargo Fire employees are compensated properly with the level of work we expect from them. We were losing our public safety employees to other communities as well as the private sector. We took action to ensure we can retain and attract the best candidates.
In addition to streamlining our police operations with a unified new Fargo Police headquarters, the City is committed to maintaining a storefront presence of the Fargo PD in Downtown Fargo. This is of critical importance and we will ensure it happens.
What Type of Community Does Fargo Want to Be?
Around this time each year, as we are working with our department heads to assemble the budget, we hear comments from some on the need to lower property taxes. While this is always a good goal to have, I think this is an opportunity to put things into perspective when it comes to the mill levies in Fargo.
The City, through its Home Rule Charter, has the ability to tax up to 64 mills. We are currently utilizing 51 mills. In the past seven years, we have reduced our mill levy by 7.25 mills. This has a limiting impact on our ability to hire additional City employees to serve this growing city.
One mill in the City of Fargo equates to revenues of about $562,000 per year. If we reduce our tax level by one mill and you owned a $250,000 home, you would see a property tax reduction of $10.69 per year. If, on the other hand, we were to raise the budget by 1 mill, this revenue could fund seven additional police officers.
These are significant facts for residents to consider as we have a community conversation about what is important to our residents. Your City Commissioners want and need to hear your thoughts as we work towards the 2020 Budget and a larger conversation on the Fargo of the future.