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Re-examining West Fargo's garbage rates

The last time the city examined its rates was in 2019.

Rows of garbage cans were knocked over by strong winds in West Fargo. Pioneer file photo
Rows of garbage cans were knocked over by strong winds in West Fargo on Tuesday, March 7. WDAY News

WEST FARGO — The city won't be hiring a consultant to study garbage rates, but a residents could see a bill increase in the future.

Public Works Director Matt Andvik suggested the city hire a consultant to study the sanitation department and the rates residents pay for garbage and recycling services at the Monday, March 21 West Fargo City Commission meeting.
Andvik said the last time the city examined its rates was in 2019, but the city has grown in population since then and it was time to reevaluate.

Andvik suggested the city hire an outside consultant for about $100,000, which would be paid for by funds from the sanitation fund.
"It will help us understand what we can improve and what we can change," Andvik said. "The goal is to have the most efficient and cost effective way we can do thtis. We know we need to raise rates a certain amount, but what is the percentage and what is the ways we can back that up."

However, commissioners felt perhaps a study should be done in-house. Options to cut costs such as eliminating a second garbage truck, or the follow-truck, could be considered as well as going from picking up garbage four days a week instead of five.

"I think we need to get rid of the follow truck,"Commissioner Eric Gjerdevig said. " I use it. I would pay for the second garbage truck. To me, that is such a simple solution an dit doesn't cost $100,000 to find. It would allow us to keep the rate where it is at for awhile. I know I'm oversimplifying it but I look at that and to me, it feels like it's the first step."

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Andvik said he felt a consultant may be able to do a better job of finding cost savings than staff.

The city just began conversations about its 2023 budget. Andvik brought forward the proposal for a study as a 2022 budget amendment. City Administrator Fisk said they felt like it was better to move forward now with the amendment rather than as part of next year's budget so that the study could also consider the city's contract with Waste Management for recycling, which expires in April 2024.

The commission did not pass the amendment with Gjerdevig, Commissioner Mark Simmons and Mayor Bernie Dardis voting against the proposal. Dardis asked Andvik to reach out to Fargo and see if there is any interest in collaborating on a study.
"You and your staff have proven yourself very capable in the past couple years," Dardis said. "If we can save the city and the tax payers some dollars that is a very positive thing."

In other news:
The Commission approved a summer tree planting project along Main Avenue. The tree planting was promised as part of a 2016 partnership with the North Dakota Department of Transportation and was identified as a project in the city's capital improvement plan.
Businesses were promised trees would be planted along Main Avenue after the street underwent major renovations. The project will cost about $130,000 which will be paid for by sales tax funds.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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