CURTIS, Nebraska -- In their final meeting in 2010, the Middle Republican Natural Resource District board of directors approved the correction to the 2011 Occupation Tax, 10-1, raising it from $4.78 to $4.90 per acre. James Uerling was the lone dissenting vote.
The change occurred because of a computer error when the rate was calculated. Dan Smith, MRNRD Manager, told the board that they had already approved the budget in the previous meeting for the 2011 fiscal year, and that the change was necessary to meet the expenses in that budget. The new rate is actually $3,000-4,000 short of the proposed budget.
"We didn't feel that we wanted to go over [the expenses] when we decided in this amount [for the tax]," said Smith.
The error by the computer program, used by the National Association of County Officials, miscalculated the number of acres in the MRNRDs district.
Prior to the official meeting, the board heard a presentation from Jim Hicks, a state environment engineer for Nebraska, on dam sites 80a and 32a.
Repairs to Site 80a, located north of Maywood, are complete, however, Hicks reported that what they thought was one crack in the dam, was actually two big cracks and voids in the dam.
"We originally thought the dam had cracks because it had dried out, but when he tested the soil we discovered that the moisture at the top of the dam was almost the same as the moisture levels at the bottom," said Hicks. "We believe the cracks and eventually the voids occurred when the dam settled at different rates."
The crew working on the dam used what is known as chimneys. Chimneys are sections of a dam, in this case two foot by five foot, where sand is packed tightly to allow water to flow through, but not sediment.
"We use water to pack the sand as tightly as possible," said Hicks. "It allows that flow of water, in case of a leak or crack, but with the chimney any moving sediment would be stopped at the chimney, resettle and fill any cracks."
Site 32a, located on the boundary between Hitchcock and Hayes County, isn't finished and has been put on hold for the winter. The pipe and concrete has been set, but due to the temperature of soil the crew had to stop work. In order to pack the ground, the ground must be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We have put dirt around the pipe and concrete to protect it for the winter and we will get right back at it in the spring," said Hicks.
This meeting was the last for four members on the board who did not win their bids for reelection in November: Josh Friesen, Dan Nelson, Marty Schurr and Ben Loomis.
When asked about whether they would run again in the 2012 elections, the four members said that it is still a possibility and on the table.
The four incoming members, Steve Cappel, Blaine Stinson, Bill Hoyt and John Palic, attended the meeting.
Dan Nelson will continue to serve out his four year term on the Nebraska Natural Resource Commission.
"I will finish out my term on the NNRC; I want to stay involved, and encourage everyone else to as well," said Nelson. "Now I will be able to get more involved with the other boards, and go to their meetings."
Nelson still has two more years on the NNRC.
A Request to Intervene, on the challenge filed with the Department of Natural Resources, has been filed on behalf of the MRNRD, allowing the board to access information and any decision from the DNR regarding the challenge.
"I am not sure why they filed with the DNR. It's an inappropriate action. [The challenge] needs to be taken to court," said Smith. "The filings are in the wrong jurisdiction. They are asking the DNR to say they were wrong in the IMPs."
The lawyer for the MRNRD has also filed for the dismissal of the challenge.
The DNR has yet to decide whether or not to hear the challenge.
During the general meeting reports the board unanimously approved the November meeting minutes; the financial report for November; and an amendment to put a dollar value, and not a percentage on pay agreements with two consultants to the MRNRD. They also approved pay-flex plan definition changes for MRNRD staff; to continue the cost share program being utilized by the MRNRD; and to hear bids for remodeling of the MRNRD office to put in an office wall and door to better suit the staff and visitors.