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Water slide included in city budget

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- City staff has proposed the construction of a $125,000 water slide at the McCook municipal pool in the coming 2011-12 city budget. The project could be an effective summer-time draw for the area and coupled with the McCook Community College Events Center, scheduled to be completed in March 2012, could make the summer of 2012 a highly anticipated one.

Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff told the Parks Advisory Board in February that the price of the project had become much more favorable and had hinted then that he hoped to have room for it in the coming budget. The project is slated to be funded with existing sales tax revenue.

Council members reviewed the water slide proposal during their second budget workshop Monday evening at council chambers. The 2011-12 fiscal year city of McCook budget featured minimal changes from prior year and no scheduled rate or tax increases.

The McCook police departsment saw the same number of calls for service from the prior year, with similar numbers in arrests, accidents and activity in general. Chief of Police Isaac Brown told councilors that although there were the same number of accidents, there was a significant drop in the number of injuries from - accidents. He attributed that to a superb job of reporting done by the public, coupled with the cyclic nature of the incidents in general.

The jail saw roughly the same number of inmates in 2010-11, when compared to prior year, but Brown said in increase in the length of their stay resulted in a revenue increase for that entity.

The jail revenue increase, combined with other budget savings, such as a reduction in miles driven by officers that Brown attributed to several officers involvement in bicycle patrols, helped offset budgeted increases in salaries and other areas for the police department. Bringing the overall department's budget increase, versus prior year, to $8,619.

The fire and ambulance department budgets showed similar diligence, coming in under prior year by a combined $7,000, after seeing another year with an increase in calls. That decrease is excluding capital expenditures of $118,500, some of which will be grant funded and other items, such as the financing of a $60,000 mini pumper, will be funded via loans.

Fire Chief Marc Harpham explained that his departments currently sent their primary pumper out on all motor vehicle accident calls. The additional mini-pumper would fill that need, extending the life of the primary pumper as well as making it more readily available during fire calls that occur simultaneously with motor vehicle accidents. Harpham explained his concerns with having their primary pumper 15 miles out of town on an accident call when a fire call came in, as well as the ease in navigating the mini pumper on many of the county roads, versus the larger primary pumper.

The civil defense general fund budget showed a $355 increase from prior year, building and zoning is budgeting for a $14,324 decrease, and the McCook library is targeting a $12,278 budget decrease.

Many of the city departments had to overcome an electricity rate increase, particularly affecting the street lights budget which was increased by $30,000 just due to that item.

Potthoff told councilors that he had noticed solar panels on street lights in a Colorado town that he recently passed through, saying it may be something worth looking into.

The McCook airport is budgeting for a $13,900 budget decrease, with Potthoff saying that he was optimistic the loss of Essential Air Service would be put off for another year, since Congress had yet to reach a decision on the matter. City Clerk Lea Ann Doak explained that the budgeted decrease was in preparation of a worst-case scenario, saying that the loss of essential air service would result in an immediate revenue decline at the airport.

In its entirety the 2011-12 fiscal year budget general fund for the city of McCook is targeting a $574,618 decrease in expenditures, when compared to prior year, with $7.206 million in revenues, $6.522 million in expenditures. Revenues are budgeted to decrease by only $21,230, leaving the budgeted ending cash, reserves and county treasurer balance at $683,771. The prior fiscal year ending balance was budgeted for $87,923.

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