The city of West Fargo will now give $600,000 to build a regional Career Workforce Academy, an amount the City Commission agreed is more proportional to its population size.
At the West Fargo City Commission's meeting on July 6, Commissioner Eric Gjerdevig suggested the board reduce its contribution from the requested $1.25 million over five years to $800,000. The commission agreed to provide $800,000, but only if Fargo increased its contribution to $1.95 million, to make up the difference in city population size.
"I feel like we should be a third of what Fargo is," Commissioner Mandy George said.
Gjerdevig said it's not fair to expect their taxpayers to contribute the same amount of funding toward a regional Career Workforce Academy as a city the size of Fargo, where the school will be located.
However, Fargo did not increase its contribution amount and agreed to only $1.5 million at its July 13 meeting.
"The motion we passed two weeks ago effectively died after Fargo failed to increase," Gjerdevig said Monday, July 20.
The project is a collaboration between the school districts of Fargo, West Fargo, Northern Cass, Central Cass and the North Dakota State College of Science in an effort to build a roughly $25 million Career Workforce Academy that would offer education to those from kindergarten to an associate degree.
The group is hoping to raise $15 million from public funding and $15 million in private donations, of which they have received $11.47 million so far.
Mayor Bernie Dardis said, as an update, that Cass County has upped its portion to $5 million, Fueling Our Future initiative is giving $1 million, and the city of Fargo will give $1.5 million as of Monday, July 20.
Fueling the Future is a $5 million initiative created by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce for future buildings and economic development using public and private funding.
"After they left us, they went to Fueling the Future and got $1 million," Commissioner Mark Simmons said. "That is our money too."
Simmons stressed that he supports the idea of the academy, but the city simply "cannot afford" that much money.
The city of West Fargo contributed $400,000 to the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce and the Fueling the Future initiative in 2019.
A motion to give $500,000 to the project failed after Dardis suggested giving $600,000, with the proposal to be revisited if the academy does not receive a projected $5 million federal grant.
Simmons had agreed to the $500,000 but voted against spending $600,000 in the 5-1 vote.