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Commission approves paratransit options study

West Fargo City Commissioners went on record Monday night approving a resolution of support for the Metro Area Transit (MAT) Paratransit Options Analysis Study as completed by the Metropolitan Council of Governments and previously approved by Moorhead and Fargo city officials.

The study recommends a mixture of options to meet the growing needs of disabled riders without cutting services.

Mike Kunza, regional transportation coordinator for MetroCOG, reviewed the study saying that it is a mixture of options aimed at retaining existing services, controlling costs, all the while continuing to meet the transportation needs of those with disabilities in the metro area.

He said that ridership has increased from 2,200 in 2000 to 6,400 in 2006 and the cost associated with the growing numbers has become a burden. He said the goal is to keep levels where they are at, not cut services, and hold the standard ride cost at $2 per person.

Medicaid services would be one option. Under this program MAT would become a Medicaid provider, allowing them to bill Medicaid for people who need to visit clinics or hospitals for eligible major medical trips, involving dialysis or other procedures. He said this method would save approximately $12 per ride. He said he is hoping to have this option implemented by September or October with the assistance of Bismarck officials who already have it in place and working well.

Kunza said he felt this would be a viable long-term solution.

In other action, the Commission:

-approved a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for Gremada Industries, Inc., 1262 W. Main Ave., for exemption from property tax on the project which they will use in the expansion of their manufacturing facility. They will be constructing a 36,000 sq. ft. metal building onto the north end of their present structure. The building will have loading docks and extra thick concrete floors to accommodate the heavy machinery anticipated to be housed there. They are also anticipating adding 41 new employees over the next five years. The West Fargo Economic Development Advisory Committee approved the PILOT application for a 10-year exemption as long as Gremada meets the criteria needed to extend upon five years. The Commission went along with the ten-year request;

-approved a similar PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) request from Moore Engineering, Inc., who is constructing a 24,500 sq. ft. office and shop building on the corner of 10th Ave. E. and 9th St., directly north of Sunmart and east of the Menards lumber area. The exterior will be brick and architectural panels. In addition to the office building, a separate entrance will be available for the building inspection and permit office. The number of employees is expected to increase by 18 over the next five years. The request was made for a 5-year application, which the Commission favored unanimously;

-okayed second reading of a subdivision ordinance amendment to provide for a minimum of 62-foot right-of-ways for local residential streets and a zoning ordinance amendment to establish a new residential district (R-1B), providing for low density residential with reduced yard setback and higher design standards to accentuate the residential appeal and put less emphasis on attached garages;

-favored second reading and final plat approval on Blazing Star Addition, subdivision and rezoning from Agricultural to proposed Single Family Dwelling District;

-approved second reading and final plat on the replat and rezoning of Francis 3rd Addition to Light Commercial;

-okayed second reading on amendments to the subdivision and zoning ordinances, providing for alley right-of-ways in subdivisions; providing for changes in street standards; and creating a new residential zoning district (R-1S), which will provide for single family detached and attached dwellings with shorter front yards than typical residential districts allow, detached garages in rear yards only, and greater lot coverages than typical residential districts allow;

-approved second reading and final plat approval for rezoning from Agricultural to Heavy Industrial for Industrial Builders 1st Subdivision;

-okayed second reading and final plat approval for a subdivision and rezoning from Agricultural to Public Facilities for the West Fargo Soccer Subdivision.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 20, in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall. A meeting to discuss the 2008 Budget will be held immediately following. All meetings are open to the public.


Budget talks begin

City Commissioners took their first preliminary look at the 2008 Budget Monday night, reviewing proposed Police, Fire, Airport and Library department figures.

The 2008 budget sets expenditures at $25,410,136, with a mill levy of 88 mills, the same figure as last year. The numbers include a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for each city employee plus a step increase equating to another 2.5 percent.

Future meetings will address remaining department areas, with a preliminary budget set to be approved by Sept. 10, and the final budget by Oct. 10.

The next budget meeting will take place after the regular 5:30 p.m. Commission meeting on Aug. 20.