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Council seeks plans in $5 million range

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook City Council directed architects to provide proposals for the new City Municipal Facilities at both the $5 million and $5.25 million levels.

City Manager Kurt Fritsch expressed concerns, at Tuesday night's bi-monthly city council meeting at the McCook Heritage Senior Center that dropping below the $5 million level would begin to reduce the life expectancy of the building as it would require quality reduction in the quality of key components such as the roof.

Discussion around funding sources such as using sales taxes only or using a hybrid of sales tax and property tax resulted in councilman Lonnie Anderson voicing his concerns over citizens receiving recent home evaluations and not wanting any further tax increases on their properties. Councilman Jerry Calvin echoed Anderson's concerns which prompted councilman Aaron Kircher to reiterate his stance that the hybrid may be the best option.

"Sales tax may be the easiest sell to the citizens of McCook but does it save them the most money?" he asked.

Calvin later expressed his concern over the existing trees at the West Ward School location, saying "I am sure many school children and teachers put time into planting those trees and I hate to lose any trees that we don't have to."

It was decided that any trees small enough to be moved, would be moved and architects would be directed to preserve the larger trees within green spaces.

Voters will decide in November whether the city is able to proceed further on the project.

A consultant for Hays Companies as well as the manager of their Denver office, presented the city with their proposal to provide medical insurance consulting. CIty council unanimously approved to authorize the city manager to prepare a contract and agreement with the firm. The company believes it can save the city significant dollars, citing an approximate $70,000 initially, with their annual consulting fee of $30,000 not being paid until after the savings has been realized.

The representatives said the company would initially focus on removing hefty commission amounts built into the current insurance plan and then place its focus on tracking claim trends and working with city staff to put practices in place to reduce claim amounts which currently amount to 75 percent of the costs.

McCook Chief of Police Isaac Brown spoke on the success of the Problem Resolution Team, working with nearly a hundred area property owners to address unsafe, unsightly or the existence of other nuisance property issues. Saying that Nebraska Stabilization Funds have been acquired to demolish seven properties already and 6-12 additional properties are headed in that direction. Citizens questioned the chief regarding abandoned automobiles in the area and he said that several dozen vehicles had already been addressed this spring and that they would continued to be addressed as the complaints came in.

Encouraging the public to let the police department know if they saw a problem that they felt needed to be addressed.

Chief Brown also informed City Council that the Secure Our Schools Grant that the city and school district worked jointly on was chosen from hundreds nationwide by a board headed by the department of justice as one of 28 to be considered for a site visit. The selection was based on the superb planning and implementation displayed by both entities during the cooperative effort said Brown.

Other items approved by City Council:

* Free public admission to the McCook Municipal Swimming Pool was authorized on July 3.

* A resolution was approved that will establish parking on both sides of Norris Avenue, between W. First and West D, as two hour parking during regular business hours. It was also mentioned that the no parking zone in front of Wells Fargo Bank was not authorized and the bank was already working with the city to free those spots back up.

* Mike Deveny Motors Inc was granted license for a portion of the city right-of-way to be used for off-street parking.

* The bid for the Fire Department's three power cots and stair chair was awarded to Ferno-Washington, Inc. in the amount of $29,712.

* The Elizabeth Lane reconstruction project was awarded to Hall Bros Recycling of Salina, Kansas, in the amount of $136,595. The project initially received erroneous bids from both bidders which were cancelled and caused the project to be re-bid.

* BSB Construction was awarded the bid for installing the Karrer Park Lift Station Force Main for $44,083.

* The demolition contract for the Romanoff building was awarded to Myers Construction Inc., of Broken Bow in the amount of $188,530.

* Bid specifications for the demolition of West Ward School were approved and the date to receive bids was set for June 29.

* Deveny Motors, Inc was granted license for a portion of the city right-of-way to be used for off-street parking.

* A special designated liquor license was granted to the Fraternal Order of Eagles for an outdoor dance, fund raiser, beer garden on August 21.

* The west side of the 600 block of Norris Avenue was approved to be closed on July 3, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., for the dedication of the Nelson family sculpture.

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Not that I'm totally in favor of building a new facility but increasing sales tax would ease the burden on residents to everyone visiting and purchasing within the City Limits. It may or may not save us the most money Mr. Kircher. It just makes it so not 100% of the money is our burden.

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 1:23 PM

In the article on the county commissioners meeting in today's paper it stated the the county requires property owners to pay their taxes befotre the city can take down the old abandoned trashed out houses. So some of the property owners can not or will not pay the taxes and the city then can not clean up the places. Catch 22. One governmental group wants to clean it up the other says no.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 2:01 PM

It's not a catch 22 on the county side. People and businesses buy those taxes from the Treasurer, sell the property after a few years and the county gets paid no matter what and they get paid on "improved" valuations. These dilapidated buildings aren't being valued at -0-, no matter what shape it's in.

-- Posted by McCook1 on Tue, Jun 8, 2010, at 5:37 PM

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