I cannot begin to explain my feelings of anger at some of the recent decisions being made by the West Fargo City Commission. Their contemplation of gifting West Fargo residents $25-$50 because of the hardships created by COVID-19 boggles my mind. It is nearly as short sighted as giving nearly everyone in America $600 when most Americans don’t need it while many Americans need far more than that.

The majority (probably 75% of West Fargo residents) are not in dire need of the $25. The idea of gifting money directly to residents falls on the heels of a decision to buy out five homeowners on Sheyenne Street because it helps with temporary city parking or future economic development. It is insane to have the city gamble with taxpayers dollars on ventures such as these. Sales tax dollars are not a slush fund for any and all ideas presented by city staff, Economic Development staff or commissioners.

To take $400,000 and gift it to all residents is absolutely ludicrous. It’s as though the city is looking for a way to make itself look good amongst the many poor decisions it has made in the last several years.

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One only has to look at decisions which shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars unfairly to a small group of homeowners for a storm drain project. One only has to look at paying a contractor for hauling away hundreds of thousands of dollars of black dirt that resulted from poor estimates made on the Sheyenne Street project. One only has to look at spending nearly $200,000 on “no parking” signage that never even was approved by the city commission; but rather determined by staff and a commissioner to fall under their authority to spend.

These are the kind of decisions that make the current city commission look as though any and all errors, omissions, and judgements made by them are infallible and have a justifiable reason to be made. It’s time to stop the "feel-good" decisions and start taking actions as though the money is your own and not some slush fund to spend at your choosing.

The administration of this “feel-good” gift will be a nightmare. If any money is to be given to meet the needs of those most unfortunately affected by this pandemic, why not seek out an agency who is in dire need of monies to carry out their mission and let them distribute the dollars to those most in need? I am sure that the dollars could be better directed than your idea to be all inclusive in your target.

You don’t need gifts to assure your standing in the community and your ability to get re-elected. What you do need is sound judgement and the respect of your constituency.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Darrell Vanyo is a former city commissioner and Cass County commissioner.