WEST FARGO — West Fargo hopes to invest nearly $200 million in improving its infrastructure over the next five years, including the construction of a new city hall.
West Fargo held two municipal forums on the city’s capital improvement plan on Tuesday, April 26, one at noon and a second in the evening. The city plans to invest more than $180 million over the next five years in city infrastructure, which includes the lagoon decommissioning project, street repaving and repairs, and a new hotel. potential city, which could be built as early as 2025.
The capital improvement plan covers projects that would be completed from 2022 to 2026. It includes some projects that are ongoing right now, such as the construction of the new West Fargo Fire Headquarters, the Lagoon Decommissioning Project, and road repairs if necessary. This may also include the construction of a new town hall, starting in 2025.
Mayor Bernie Dardis said while much of the plan comes from city staff, some plans are the result of public input.
“If we constantly receive complaints about a certain area, we forward them to the administration,” he said. “It’s an ongoing dialogue about what people want and what services they think there should be.”
The commission received the five-year plan for infrastructure projects at a public meeting on March 10 and was due to vote on the plan at its March 21 meeting. Instead, the commission cast a vote and asked staff to hold additional public meetings.
Deputy city administrator and former city engineer Dustin Scott said a number of projects are included in the capital improvement plan, but each individual project is brought to the commission for approval over time.
“These are very high-level estimates,” Scott said.
Chief Financial Officer Jim Larson said about 36% of the funding needed came from sanitary and sewer funds, and the capital improvement sales tax would cover 25% of the need over the next five years. Utility funds will provide 15% of the funding, and these funds come from sewer and water fees or rates charged. The city would be able to cover about $181.4 million, but it would have to cover a shortfall of about $3 million over the next three years.
At the noon meeting, resident Roben Anderson, who will be running for election as city commissioner in June, asked what the city would do about its central area, which is generally considered the area north from Interstate 94.
Scott said the city is looking for outside funding sources such as grants to tackle the core area.
“We do our best to keep special dues low,” Scott said.
Many participants in the noon meeting were concerned about the number of special assessments that may be imposed on properties in the future to help pay for PIC projects.
Commissioner Brad Olson said the city isn’t looking to change its special assessment process, but the plan proposes to fund 28% of the overall slate of projects through special assessments.
Resident Steve Marquart pointed out that the plan works on the assumption that utility rates will also rise each year.
City commissioners are considering adding a half-cent sales tax to the November ballot. Commissioners said the additional tax would be dedicated to the police and fire services, but it has not yet been decided whether the tax could also be used to construct additional buildings for public safety, such as a new headquarters of the font. West Fargo Police Headquarters is located at City Hall.
A voting question may be presented to the committee for approval at its next regular meeting on Monday, May 2.
The commission hasn’t guaranteed that it won’t raise its factory tax, which could raise personal taxes in the 2023 budget. The city will likely need to raise the factory tax in its 2023 budget to account for of the increase in the cost of living that the commission adopted after the approval of its 2022 budget.
The CIP can be viewed online at https://www.westfargond.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7568/2022-Capital-Improvement-Plan-Presented-March-22-2022.