McCOOK, Nebraska -- Following approval of a proclamation designating April 29 as "Arbor Day," the McCook City Council authorized an increase to the Tree Rebate Program in hopes of further motivating citizens to plant trees. The increase, from $50 to $75 for shade and ornamental trees, and from $75 to $100 for Oak trees, came Monday evening during the council's semi-monthly meeting at Memorial Auditorium.
Councilman Aaron Kircher asked if the rebate increase could pose budget problems, prompting City Manager Kurt Fritsch to say the rebate program had never in the past used its budgeted amount. Councilman Jerry Calvin then asked if there were other options that needed to be explored, aside from the rebate increase. "Possibly opening it up to other parts of the yard? Side and back yards," asked Calvin, referring to the program limitation of only rebating citizens that plant trees in their front yards. After a brief discussion council members agreed to ask the Tree Advisory Board to explore further possibilities for the council to consider, in addition to approving the increase.
A total of $2,595 was paid out in 2009 rebates for 66 trees planted. 2010 dropped to 30 trees planted and subsequently $1,514 in rebates paid to homeowners. The 2010-11 city budget has $13,000 marked for city wide tree replacement, which includes the rebate program.
A revised version of the McCook ordinance book was also approved by councillors. The code book was reviewed by legal staff at American Legal Publishing Corporation and the revisions included relocating, combining and renumbering each of the chapters in the ordinance book. "[There is] nothing in here that was added by city staff," said Fritsch, who explained that the revised version was much cleaner and easier to get through.
City staff has committed to post the final document on the city website, making an updated version of the ordinance book available to the public without having to request it from city staff.
Police Chief Isaac Brown introduced new McCook police officer, Bradley Burmaster. Burmaster has previous law enforcement experience with the Oberlin, Kansas, police department and recently completed an accelerated state training program to receive his Nebraska certification.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda:
* An application seeking federal assistance for reimbursement of expenses associated with a 2010 easement acquisition project at McCook airport was approved.
* The city financial report for first quarter 2011 was received and filed.
* Councillors authorized a proclamation that designated May 1-7, 2011, as "Drinking Water Week."
* The McCook Area Chamber of Commerce was authorized a special liquor license for the Wayne Boyer Timed Event Showdown at Kiplinger Arena, May 20-22.