The city of Moorhead is considering getting out of the sandbag business.

City Manager Michael Redlinger said that the city spent nearly half a million dollars this spring preparing for potential flooding and that most of that was for 50,000 sandbags for some of the 87 homes still left on the Red River.

Some city leaders say that's too much money spent on too few people.

Mayor Mark Voxland said the city has spent about $87 million since 2009 to buy riverfront homes and build up citywide levees to 42 feet. Voxland said paying for sandbags should fall to homeowners who have declined buyouts.

The City Council mulled the issue at its meeting Monday. Voxland said the city this spring reused sandbags left over from 2011 to guard against what he called a "mediocre flood" and it was still costly.

Voxland said the council should consider a policy of waiting until the National Weather Service forecasts a river crest of 42 feet before it provides sandbags. Council Member Nancy Otto agreed but said the council should consider simply providing bags and sand but not filling the bags.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said as the city's floodwall and levee system nears completion, state and federal disaster aid will be harder to come by except in extreme events. Zimmerman said about $14.7 million in work remains before the entire city is protected to 42 feet.

Associated Press