Firm cleaning up its act: Sheyenne Disposal pays Fargo $18,552 but still owes other towns
Mark Thelen bought his West Fargo garbage company a little more time at the Fargo landfill. Although Fargo and West Fargo officials say Thelen's Sheyenne Disposal has unpaid bills elsewhere -- including the Gwinner, N.D., landfill -- he came up w...
Mark Thelen bought his West Fargo garbage company a little more time at the Fargo landfill.
Although Fargo and West Fargo officials say Thelen's Sheyenne Disposal has unpaid bills elsewhere -- including the Gwinner, N.D., landfill -- he came up with $18,552 Tuesday morning to cover recent costs for using the Fargo landfill.
As a result, garbage service in West Fargo was not interrupted Tuesday. Sheyenne Disposal also has contracts with the Cass County cities of Casselton, Harwood and Horace.
Sheyenne Disposal was allowed to dump four semi-loads of trash in Fargo Tuesday -- one fewer than required to handle all the trash it takes -- and will now pay for landfill service on a day-to-day basis. If at any point Thelen can't pay, garbage will be turned away.
Fargo is allowing Sheyenne Disposal to dump four loads of garbage instead of five to pressure the company to figure out a longterm solution, said Solid Waste Director Bruce Grubb.
Each semi-load carries up to 20 tons of garbage. Fargo charges $25 a ton.
Sheyenne Disposal has been dumping its garbage at the Fargo landfill since March 16, when it was told it could no longer bring its garbage to the Gwinner landfill.
Kurt Kietzer, Gwinner landfill director, said he couldn't comment on his company's dealings with Sheyenne Disposal. Thelen also wouldn't comment on the financial status of Sheyenne Disposal or specific reasons for bringing trash to Fargo.
Fargo city commissioners voted last Friday to buy Sheyenne Disposal for $890,000, but later learned they may be third in line behind West Fargo and the company that owns the Gwinner landfill to claim the cash-strapped business.
West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern said his city is still looking into the feasibility of buying Sheyenne Disposal's garbage transfer site. West Fargo is also trying to determine if Sheyenne Disposal breeched its contract with the city by taking trash to Fargo.
Fargo and West Fargo have been in an on-again, off-again garbage squabble since Sheyenne Disposal opened in 1999.
Until Sheyenne Disposal came along, West Fargo took its garbage to Fargo. Right after West Fargo decided to take its garbage elsewhere, Fargo dropped its tipping fees from $30 a ton to $25 a ton.
West Fargo had already struck a deal to pay $30 a ton to Sheyenne Disposal.
Not long after, West Fargo returned the jab by rezoning the land next to the Fargo landfill -- owned by Fargo but in West Fargo city limits -- to prohibit landfill use.
If Sheyenne Disposal dissolves and West Fargo and Fargo have to reunite their garbage, there's a chance the cities could work out a deal so Fargo can use those 85 acres for eventual landfill expansion, said Fargo City Administrator Pat Zavoral.
In return, West Fargo would save money by taking trash to Fargo.
The idea has been discussed by officials from both cities, but a lot more discussion would need to go into this, Zavoral said. For instance, he asked if Fargo should be providing services to cities it's fighting in court?
Horace recently sued Fargo over an annexation dispute, and a similar land battle with Harwood may be just around the corner.
If Sheyenne Disposal's garbage does start coming to the Fargo landfill on a regular basis, it would likely decrease the landfill's life expectancy by about two years, Grubb said.
The Fargo landfill has about 20 years before it's full, he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531