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Extra funds approved for Humane Society

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From left, Jimmy Lucio, Joe Leamon and Elias Solorzano of JL Construction Inc., work on a new sidewalk to Walmart on West B Street in McCook.
(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Anne Dowd and Charlene Riemenschneider, representing the McCook Humane Society, presented the McCook City Council with a request for $3,000 and information regarding the budget crisis the non-profit organization found itself facing for the upcoming fiscal year at Tuesday evening's semi-monthly McCook City Council Meeting at Memorial Auditorium.

Several council members questioned the group regarding the amount of expense it generated from assisting other communities in the region. Council member Jerry Calvin asked, "Why do the citizens of McCook have to subsidize the animal problems of Southwest Nebraska?" Humane Society representatives responded by saying that several outlying communities were already paying fees for the services, citing Indianola and Oberlin specifically and that the Humane Society board was scheduled to petition other communities for financial assistance going forward. McCook is the only community in the region to have a humane society operation according to Riemenschneider, who also said that North Platte only had an animal shelter which had a strict three day euthanasia policy.

The representative further explained a plan to approach outlying communities, researching areas for potential fee increases and said it was heavily investigating its operations for areas to cut costs. Dowd mentioned the possibility of earlier euthanization for certain animals the society lodges and the benefits that could be realized if the society was able to increase its number of volunteers, which she said has decreased dramatically over recent years. Council members voted unanimously to approve the Humane Society's request.

The first of three required readings of an ordinance approving the sale of two properties, acquired as a result of recent demolition projects, was approved. Offers were made by Howard and Barbara Musgrave for the lot located at 206 W. Seventh and Paul Monzon for the property at 410 South Street. Councilman Aaron Kircher reiterated his previously mentioned desire for the city to place requirements on the purchasers to develop the empty lots within a mutually agreed upon time period. Calvin disagreed with Kircher and argued that he didn't believe it was the city's place to direct owners on what they should do with the property after they owned it. Councilman Lonnie Anderson said that if such requirements were placed on potential buyers they needed to be at least two years out, "One year is too restrictive." Councilman Mike Gonzales did not support the requirements, saying "I feel like we're overstepping our boundaries. Lets just sell it." Kircher further explained, "If we want to make sure buyers do what they say they are going to do this is how we do it. We are just getting in writing that they are doing what they say they are doing."

City Attorney Nate Schneider explained that the city was legally within its rights to place requirements on potential purchasers of the lots but without support beyond Kircher for the measure it was tabled and the first of three readings of the ordinance was approved unanimously without requirements on potential purchasers.

Other items on the consent and regular agenda;

* The fiscal year 2010-11 city employee pay plan was approved for its second of three required readings.

* The fiscal year 2010-11 city budget was approved by the City Council after its third and final reading.

* City staff informed the council of progress made regarding the use of NSP funds to demolish the West Ward building.

* Jenny Blankenship of Public Financial Management appeared via conference call and reviewed the planning model PFM developed for city administration in regards to the water and sewer enterprise funds. Council subsequently approved the 2010-11 sewer department rates upon its second of three required readings.

* The $100,000 claim for damages from attorneys representing Beverly Spilinek was received and approved to be forwarded to the city's insurance carrier for review.

* The repair of the South B Street parking lot, behind Peterson Jewelers and Eakes Office Products, was awarded to BSB Construction of Curtis for $59,027. BSB's bid came in $1700 less than Gerih Concrete Construction LLC of McCook and was scheduled to complete a month sooner.

* Council members approved a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the contract between the city and the McCook Professional Firefighters Association Local 2100. The final agreement will be brought to the City Council at the Sept. 20 meeting.

* Howard G. Johnson, "Ho Jo's Hideaway," was approved for a special liquor license for a Mule Deer Foundation fund raiser at Memorial Auditorium, Oct. 9.

* MO Dough LLC was approved for a special liquor license for the Norris Institute New Rural Energy Symposium at the Keystone Business Center, Sept. 27.

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