WEST FARGO, N.D. — The city of West Fargo is taking a cue from the federal government — albeit on a much smaller scale — and hoping to give out household stimulus gifts as a way to help residents as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

City commissioner Eric Gjerdevig suggested Monday, Dec. 21, that the commission give each West Fargo household a $20-$25 gift card to be used at West Fargo small businesses.

"It isn't much, but at least it pays something," he said.

Gjerdevig said the gift card option would likely spur more spending in West Fargo.

"I think we would hope it would be used in small business, not say, like, Costco," Gjerdevig said. "It will generate more. If a family goes out to dinner, they're going to spend more than $25, so we're driving more than $25 into our local economy."

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Commissioner Mark Simmons has been asking city staff to consider additional options to aid West Fargo businesses and residents after the pandemic has slowed and, at times, shuttered many businesses.

The city proposed using economic development tax revenue to fund the cards, which initial estimates based on single home numbers would cost about $400,000 with additional money for staff to market the cards and reach out to businesses for participation.

"The citizens paid this tax; this is their money, we're just helping them out and giving them back a little," Simmons said. "It can be spent at any business. I'm begging you to do this."

While she supported the idea, West Fargo Economic Development Director Lauren Orchard said, realistically, staff would likely need about two months to implement the proposal and communicate with residents and businesses about the cards, which means the cards would not start arriving at residents' homes until around February.

The commission unanimously approved a motion asking city staff and the city attorney to begin working on a project plan for the cards, which will be returned to the commission by its next meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 4.