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Dave Olson, Published November 19 2012

West Fargo pushes for cost estimates on diversion

WEST FARGO – City commissioners here grilled consultants Monday night over a proposed Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project and how a project would affect the pocketbooks of residents.

“We just want to know what it’s going to cost us. I get the feeling you guys don’t want us to know that,” Commissioner Duane Hanson said.

Eric Dodds, a spokesman for Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, told the commission he didn’t have answers to all of their questions.

But answers may come within a year, said Dodds, whose firm provides consulting services to the Flood Diversion Authority.

Dodds said a committee is forming that will look into how a special assessment district might fit into paying the local share of a $1.8 billion diversion project. He said roles a special assessment district might play include serving as a source of revenue for maintaining a diversion once it is built; or perhaps as a financial backstop for bonds that would primarily be paid back with sales tax revenue.

Hanson and other commissioners stressed they weren’t necessarily opposed to a diversion, “But we need to know what it costs,” Hanson said.

Mayor Rich Mattern suggested commissioners talk with constituents to find out how they feel about the latest diversion alignment, and city staffers were directed to evaluate what a diversion may mean to West Fargo and what alternatives the city may have, if any. Mattern said the commission may take up the subject again in January.

Also Monday night, the city commission voted to renew the city’s contract with Centre Inc., which provides West Fargo with things like detoxification services and minimum security detention for people dealing with court matters prior to resolution of their cases.

Under the service agreement approved Monday, the city will pay Centre $20.50 per hour, per referral, not to exceed $122.25 per 24-hour period for detox services.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555