A panel of Grand Forks City Council members tentatively pushed forward an agreement that would extend city trash pickup to Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Committee of the Whole members on Monday, Jan. 13, unanimously OK'd a letter of intent to provide refuse and recycling services at the base, assuming City Attorney Howard Swanson approves it after a review. The move is set to head to a meeting of the council proper for more formal consideration.

Base leaders have a contract with West Fargo-based ProMark Services Inc. to remove and process service members’ trash and recycling, and ProMark, in turn, subcontracts that work to Waste Management Inc., which is headquartered in Houston, Texas. If Grand Forks takes over those services, it would, in effect, only take over trash removal because it also contracts recycling service from Waste Management.

City and military leaders are working to determine how much more the city would need to spend to regularly send garbage trucks and sanitation workers to the base. City Administrator Todd Feland said that figure would be more or less what the city charges the Air Force.

Feland said the city might save some money by being marginally more efficient with its pickup routes. And the Air Force would presumably save money by contracting with the city -- Feland estimated that figure would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. He characterized the tentative arrangement as a “win-win.”

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The city’s trash collection budget is $3.9 million this year, and it is budgeted to pay Waste Management $792,000 for recycling service.

About 57,000 people live in Grand Forks, and a few thousand people live on the base.

City staff are expected to present to the council an Intergovernmental Services Agreement at a future meeting, plus a plan to extend trash and recycling service to the base.