Just a short time back many West Fargoans arose in furor over city staff’s proposed buyout of five homes on Sheyenne Street at a price tag that was originally 26% higher than their appraised value. When the commission, under citizen pressure, voted to reduce the offer to the appraised value, the homeowners declined. Monday night, city staff will again be asking the commission to approve even more abominable ideas; it's again time for citizens to cry foul.
First is a proposed lease of a paved parking lot on the old Berg Auto site. Ironically the lease effective date is March 22; over two months ago. However, someone in the city already agreed to, and the city did, accept and haul all the building debris when the site was demolished in March, and then pay for the lot to be paved and striped.
No one seems to know who already approved those expenses, and the commission is just now being presented the lease for consideration. Sheyenne Street parking just reopened for parking on both sides in front of the Pioneer Plaza building and there’s an empty paved parking lot across the street. So why this proposed lease? Who approved the expenditures? Is this the way city government is allowed to work? I don’t think so.
- West Fargo will not be purchasing homes along Sheyenne after no deal was reached with homeowners
- West Fargo will now offer appraised value for Sheyenne homes instead of flat offer
Second is a proposed $319,000 purchase agreement for the city to buy a 700-square-foot bathroom in the yet-to-be-completed Firm building; oh and another $666 for bleacher seats. This is such a ludicrous idea, where does one even begin?
One commissioner expressed disbelief staff was proposing the ideas; another commissioner said both projects are “gentlemen agreements” by previous commissions. Again, is this the way city government is allowed to function? I don’t think so.
Last, and most dangerous, city staff is asking the commission to approve a new purchasing policy that allows staff to approve expenditures up to $200,000 for both budgeted and unbudgeted desires, without any commission oversight. This includes purchases, contracts, lease agreements, construction projects and change orders, project tasks, etc.
Commission approval of this policy will largely unleash the staff to do as they please, without any budget oversight. It will literally remove any transparency of their spending from public view as we’ll never know what staff is spending money on until the checks are listed in the consent agenda….without any notation on purpose.
It’s long been known the city administrator despises citizen’s questioning/challenging staff actions, staff authority, or anything else staff does. Those who do are berated, called (profane) names, or attempted to be taken down by other means; this was all borne out in a recent complaint against her which the city attorney conveniently swept under a door mat.
Citizens need to contact their commissioners ASAP and express their concerns. This surely is not how an elected body was intended to function, and likely of very questionable legality. Citizen silence is citizen acceptance.
Brad Schmidt lives in West Fargo.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.