McCOOK, Nebraska -- City staff recommended an across- the-board wage increase of 2 percent for all employees, Tuesday evening, during the first of three budget workshops intended to finalize the cities fiscal year 2011-12 budget. The wage increase, as in previous years, was said to be derived from the consumer price index, February through January. However, the CPI during that timeframe shows only a 1.6 percent increase, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[Correction from print edition] Last year, after city staff cited their proposed 4.5 percent wage increase was a result of CPI statistics, they recanted and stated the wage increase was a result of an "accounting error." The accounting error was discovered after city staff were presented with statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed only a 2.1 percent CPI increase during their cited timeframe.
The 2010-11 city employee wage increase was reduced to 2.1 percent before it was finalized, however a previously approved increase to the city employee contribution to their health insurance was rescinded at the same time.
McCook Utility Director Jesse Dutcher reviewed the 2011-12 proposed budget for the water and sewer departments with council members. Neither department proposed significant changes compared to the prior year and Dutcher was praised by councilman Jerry Calvin, who thanked him for an excellent budget.
MEDC Executive Director Rex Nelson asked that the request for council members to approve a $105,000 loan, to the East Ward Village senior housing project, be pulled from the agenda. Nelson offered no explanation for pulling the item during the meeting, however but he had informed the Gazette Friday that changes to the loan didn't work for the developer and they were most likely going to have to "table it and adjust our approach." Council members suspended the item indefinitely.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda:
* Councilors approved the plans and specifications for energy efficiency upgrades at the city street shop. The city of McCook received a $20,326 grant from the Nebraska Energy Office, as part of the stimulus funds that were distributed. The grant will be used to upgrade lighting, windows and insulation at the shop and requires a 20 percent or $5,000 match from the city.
* Council members authorized a $1,891 cost increase to the waste water treatment plant primary clarifier rehab project. The total project cost is now at $99,551, with a budgeted amount of $100,000.
* Changes to the encroachment agreement between the city and El Paso Remediation Company were approved. The amendment focused on changing the licensee from Coastal Mart, Inc., to El Paso Remediation Company.
* The bid received for water system improvements on C Street, between East 13th and Airport road, was rejected. It will be repackaged with other projects and re-bid at a later date. The lone bid that was received came in more than $18,000 over the estimated amount of the project.
* McCormick Excavating and Paving received the bid for the East O street excavating and paving project, in the amount of $154,510.
* The West 10th Street drainage improvement project was awarded to BSB Construction, for $56,415.
* The Coppermill restaurant was approved for a special liquor license for a Aug. 6, 2011, wedding reception at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds community building.
* The Fraternal Order of Eagles #2769 was approved for a special liquor license for a dance, fund raiser and beer garden, Aug. 29, 2011, at 805 East B Street.