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West Fargo to hire consultant to study garbage and recycling rates

The study will cost more than $100,000 and take about six months.

Waste Management no-sort bins are used in West Fargo's recycling program.David Samson / The Forum
Waste Management no-sort bins are used in West Fargo's recycling program.
David Samson / The Forum
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WEST FARGO — The city of West Fargo will hire an outside consultant to study its sanitation and recycling services, including potential rate increases.

The West Fargo City Commission, behind a unanimous vote, approved a $105,000 study by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc., which will be completed in the next six months.

The study is expected to "provide recommendations and strategies for enhancing the sanitation department, as well as a 10-year financial plan for analyzing revenue inadequacies and expenses to adjustment rates as needed."

Sanitation rates increased in 2019.

Public Works Director Matt Andvik said he hopes to bring at least three options to the commission once the study is done and offer those three with costs and what can be the key structure in the next five years.

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"This is more of where we want to be, how to get there as a community and the rates we will need to get there," Andvik said. The study is needed to catch up with the city's growth of 25,830 people in 2010 to over 38,626 people in 2020, he said.

The study would follow the goals of the West Fargo 2.0 plan, Andvik said, and would also evaluate the city's recycling plan and to maximize the return on the investment.

The city's contract for recycling with Waste Management will expire in April 2024.

"So now would be the time to get our options available so we can put those forward," Andvik said.

Commissioner Roben Anderson asked if the city had done anything in-house to address the inefficiencies. While public works has helped narrow the study, Andvik said the outside consultant has more resources.

"They just have a little more reach than we do to find that information and have that detailed data to backup what we are proposing," Andvik said.

Public input within the study is Anderson's main priority, he said, in order for the commission to hear what services residents truly want, what they hope to pay and what services need improving.

Mayor Bernie Dardis said some of the most positive comments from residents are in regard to the city's sanitation services.

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Commissioner Mandy George said she often does not support outside studies such as this, but has been meeting with public works over the past few months and can see that the study and department as a whole encompasses many complicated areas, and a professional consultant would likely be best in this case.

The City Commission defeated a proposal from Andvik in March to do a similar study by a 3-2 vote, with commissioners asking Andvik to find a way to study the rates in-house.

Commissioners and Andvik on Tuesday, Jan. 3, said this study was different because the scope had been narrowed and $100,000 line item was included in the 2023 public works budget. It was not included in the department's 2022 budget.

READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
West Fargo City Commissioner Mandy George hopes the proposed program will keep day care providers open, as well as help open new centers.

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

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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