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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Commissioners hear comments, ponder options for prisoners

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- A Red Willow County, Nebraska, taxpayer shared with county commissioners Monday morning his concerns and observations about the possibility of building a county jail, and doing it without a vote by county residents.

Another taxpayer, a rural McCook resident, told commissioners regarding a jail, "It's time to quit draggin' your feet." Her husband added, "We're going to have to have one."

During the commissioners' weekly meeting Monday, commission chairman Earl McNutt said the jail topic will be on the commissioners' agenda each week, with commissioners discussing "how we want to proceed ... if we want to proceed ... sort out our next action."

McNutt said a jail designer with Prochaska & Associates, the Omaha firm that helped the county complete a jail needs study, will be in McCook this week, and McNutt said he's wondering if commissioners need a jail design. Fellow commissioner Steve Downer said they "need good visuals ... something to look at." McNutt added, "If we feel strongly enough to move forward, we need something to let for bids."

Commissioners are contemplating building and operating a 24-bed jail, or assuming the operation of the City of McCook's 96-hour holding cells and continuing to transport prisoners sentenced to long-term incarceration to neighboring jails.

Either decision is going to require lots of public education, McNutt said.

Roberta Felker of rural McCook told commissioners, "It's time to quit draggin' your feet" and build a jail. Her husband, Dorwin, added, "We're going to have to have one," lamenting that construction is only going to be more expensive with time. Roberta cited low interest rates.

Dale Dueland of McCook said he's disappointed that more people have not attended meetings of the jail committee and county commissioners when they discuss a jail.

Dueland stressed to commissioners that he is not critical of the process by which the jail committee and commissioners have been and are studying the jail issue. "As a tax payer," Dueland said, "I'm all for economic development and projects that improve McCook."

Dueland said, however, he has reservations about the economic efficiency of building a 24-bed/24-hour jail based on the average daily prisoner count of seven and operating with a staff of nine. He said the efficiency would be improved with more prisoners, and suggested looking into the possibility of renting out bed space and contracting with immigration, other counties, and state and federal marshals to improve the prisoner/staff ratio and facility efficiency.

Red Willow County Sheriff Gene Mahon said that the county's daily prisoner population, on average, varies from seven to 15 or so.

Dueland said he would like to see consolidated law enforcement and facilities in Red Willow County -- not only Red Willow County, but also regional services -- another move that would improve a jail's efficiency, he said. "But maybe the public hasn't demanded it," he said. Commissioner Steve Downer said the joint city-county building proposed in 2005-06 was designed with an eye toward consolidated law enforcement, "but no one was asking for it."

Dueland said he objects to the possible location of the jail, on three large lots north of the courthouse in the 500 block of Norris Avenue in downtown McCook, because of "a negative impact" on the neighborhood.

Dueland said he would want the north and east elevations of a jail to preserve the heritage of the neighborhood, particularly considering the significance of the Sutton House on the corner of the 600 block of Norris -- the only house in Nebraska designed and built by preeminent architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Dueland suggested incorporating in the jail landscaping plan a small park with plaques explaining the Sutton House and the history of Red Willow County.

McNutt said jail committee members have indicated that the front of the jail would look "like general office space." Downer said the building could be set back from West F on the north and landscaping plans could incorporate several existing trees. Chief Deputy Alan Kotschwar said at a Sept. 21 meeting of the jail committee that the jail would not be "four gray walls and windows with bars." There would be no razor wire and no prisoners in orange jumpsuits playing basketball outside, he said. "From the outside, it would look like a business office."

Mahon said that with new technology, windows and ceilings can be designed so that outside exercise areas are within the walls of a jail. McNutt said, "I'm not worried about it (a jail) blending in."

Dueland said Monday he also objects to the Norris Avenue location because it would not be big enough for a regional jail. "The future doesn't require that the facility has to be there," Dueland said, even though "it's handy" because of its proximity to the courthouse court room and sheriff's office.

Continuing the status quo of transporting prisoners and assuming the city's 96-hour holding cells would save tax money, Dueland said, explaining that county deputies are well-trained and have "done a good job" of transporting prisoners since 1983. "What price they put on safety is up to the public," Dueland said.

He also said that not contracting for jail beds, but paying for them only when they are used, would also save tax money.

Building a jail without an election or despite objections by (the city's) planning committee and city council, "will cause hard feelings," Dueland said. Recall is often seen as the only recourse if citizens feel backed into a corner, he said.

McNutt said at the jail committee meeting Sept. 21 that legally, the county would not have to request or have permission from the city's planning committee to build a jail in what is currently a residential area. "But, out of respect, yes, we'll go to the planning committee," McNutt said. "We have no intention of hiding anything from anyone."

McNutt said Monday that without an election, county commissioners could work "a little faster," taking advantage of good interest rates and possibly better bids.

Dueland asked commissioners and jail committee members at the jail committee meeting Sept. 21 if there has been "any thought given" to carving out space for a county jail or county holding cell facility within the new City of McCook municipal building. "Separate space," he said, "a co-location." Dueland said he sees site acquisition, utilities and dispatching advantages in such a situation, and it would get away from objections to building a jail in downtown McCook. "We haven't turned a shove of dirt yet," Dueland said.

McNutt replied, "To be totally upfront and honest, Red Willow County stepped up and took the lead in a combined building in 2005," and city and county voters said no.

"Do we want to explore that again?" McNutt said. "The logic is great, but .... we went down that street and it's not a worthwhile option today. We haven't seen anyone from that side offering to join up."

McNutt concluded, "If the city had designed a couple-three cells, we wouldn't be having these discussions."

Sheriff Mahon said Sept. 21, "It's time for Red Willow County to look out for itself."

Dack said, also at the jail committee meeting that, to her, it appears city voters have already voted for a county jail by approving a new City of McCook facility that does not include holding cells that the county can use. "The city council knew what they were doing to the county," she said. The city is abandoning the use of the public safety center (that includes the holding cells) that it doesn't want to put any more money into, she said. Assuming the operation of the holding cells, and making changes if necessary, will cost the county more money on top of the transport of prisoners and the rental of beds in out-of-county jails, Dack said. If the county does not use the cells, deputies will have to haul a prisoner immediately to an out-of-county jail, meaning more trips back-and-forth and to-and-from McCook, and the county will need more deputies and more cars, she said.

Commissioner Steve Downer agreed, saying that the proposed 4.5 cent levy to build a jail "is a small part" of a tax payer's total tax bill. "The jail bond ends in 20 years," he said. "And we can continue to transport 'til hell freezes over."

McNutt said that a former long-time Red Willow County commissioner told him the only mistake he made was remodeling the courthouse with $1 million set for a jail in the mid- to late-1980s. "If we continue to transport prisoners," McNutt said, "we'll be revisiting the jail issue in another 10 years."

Chief Deputy Alan Kotschwar said during the jail meeting Sept. 21 that it is possible that other agencies could house their prisoners at a Red Willow County jail, but the latest jail size projections have been based on the needs of Red Willow County.

McNutt said that while those options are there, they're basing this jail proposal on the county's own needs. He said the jail is not being proposed as a "money maker," and Kotschwar added that proposed budgets of revenues and expenses do not include bed rental that may or may not happen.

Rental from bed space would be funneled into the county's general fund, and then designated for jail use, McNutt said.

The 20-year jail bond is estimated to cost $340,000 a year. At the county's current valuation, that boils down to an additional $46 a year in taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home, and an additional $460 a year for the owner of a $1 million farm or ranch.

While operating costs for a new jail are hard to pin down, commissioners and jail committee members are using budgets for similar-sized new jails in Cherry and Butler counties.

Downer said Sept. 21 that operating the city's holding cells with county staff and continuing to transport long-term prisoners will cost about $800,000 a year. The construction of a jail and its operations would cost about $983,000 a year over the same 20-year span. And the bond levy ends in 20 years.

"That's a pretty minimal difference when you come down to it," Downer said.

Commissioner Vesta Dack said she agrees with jail committee members who have said that the decision boils down to the county owning and operating its own jail, or renting jail bed space, transporting prisoners and using the city's 96-hour holding cell facility. Dack doesn't feel the county has much choice whether or not to build a jail. "It comes down to owning or renting," she said.

McNutt said the feedback he has gotten thus far has been "pretty positive," that most of the tax payers who have expressed an opinion "feel the jail is a necessity." The biggest question, he said, is how the county pays for its operation.

Either way -- building a jail and paying for its daily operation, or assuming the operating costs of the city's 96-hour holding cells and continuing to transport prisoners and contract for jail beds -- is going to cost the county more money than it is currently spending on transport and jail bed rental, McNutt has said.

"It's time for commissioners to make a decision," McNutt said Monday. "This is definitely one of the biggest decisions the three of us will ever make. It could run us out of office, but we can't worry about that."

He continued, "We're not trying to ram anything down anyone's throat. We're trying to solve a problem here."

Commissioners will discuss the purchase of two rental houses at 520 Norris with property owners Janet and Greg Hepp at their Monday, Oct. 3 meeting at 9:30 a.m.

Price negotiations will take place in closed session, McNutt said.

Greg Hepp told commissioners Monday morning, "My intention is not to do anything to stand in the way. I think we need it (a jail), too."

The purchase of those houses would mean the county owns the whole half-block facing Norris Avenue.

Fact Check
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Mr. McNutt please do not try to lay the jail problem at the feet of the city of McCook. The city saved the county a huge amount of dollars over the years since the county closed their jail by housing county prisoners at a lesser charge than what the county contracted with other jails. The city offered to work with the county on the new facility for the city, the county said no multiple times. The city offered the current facility to the county. The county said no. The city worked with the county on the issue that both the city and county residents voted down (the city came closer to approving that issue than the rest of the county if memory serves me right). Questions: 1)Was it just luck the county bought the Brooks home months ago or was it the county plan all along to build on that site? 2)if the county averages just 15 prisoners per day why build for 24 beds? 3) What was the cost to haul and house last year? 4) What will the cost be to operate a jail? How does that compare to transporting? 5) Will our neighbors that currently house our prisoners close their facilities and use ours? 6)Is the city still willing to work with the county to build a second story on the safety center for the jail? Since the county, NOT the city is responsible for lock-up all expenses should be considered before a decision is made but it seems that the decision has already been made. McCook citizens spoke out and did not want even a few cents per month increase in sewer/water bills. How will those folks pay for the increase in tax rates for the county?

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 3:36 PM

I wonder if Dennis is another name for mayor of the city of McCook. For all the information he cited sounds just like the garbage the city told the people of red willow county over the years when a jail was brought up to be built.It was the city who wouldnt work together with the county not the other way around the city worked very hard to make the county look the bad guy. you cant fool everyone.

-- Posted by g-man on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 6:57 PM

Huh..... Fooled me. G, I don't think there is a sole out there, save 1, (you) that isn't aware that Dennis IS the Mayor.

The county has never seemed up for working with the City and if you know otherwise, please enlighten me as to that incident. I'm not looking for speculation or some form of interpretation of the commissioners words, I'm looking for cold hard examples of the county working in unison with the City.

Examples please.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Sep 27, 2011, at 8:33 PM

I think that it is simply amazing that the mayor and former city manager convinced enough citizens within the city limits that McCook doesn't exist within Red Willow County. Only a skilled educator and devoted liberal could make that happen in the short time like they did.

It is my opinion that the city council torpedoed the 2005 vote for a joint public safety center as part of a plan to build their own facility and the vote in 2007 for the sales tax increase was part of that plan. McCook needed to update the fire station but the skilled mayor and council used that need to get a whole bunch of wants that will cost the tax payers millions.

In addition I find it odd that the former city manager, who by the way got darn near everything he wanted in the way of tax raises, left so abruptly. It sure appears that McCook was a resume builder for an ideal job in the land of liberalism (Oregon). I will say this I have been to Oregon and McCook doesn't have near the government intervention as they do. I believe it is because the people speak up when the government oversteps. Public officials like the mayor don't like people voicing their opinion contrary to his public statements. Believe me I have been on the other end of tongue lashing from this mayor when I voiced my opinion to the spending plans by the city.

I think that both the city and the county have huge egos at times and for the good of McCook and southwest Nebraska it is time to park those egos. The sales taxes paying for the new public safety center are also coming in from all of southwest Nebraska not just the residents of McCook. Basically now the county will have to raise property taxes to fulfill their obligation to public safety and the mayor of McCook can rest on his tail and claim for the millionth time the the city council hasn't raise property taxes. The county has become the perfect villain that the City Council and Mayor can point to when taxes are raised. That is brilliant, dirty politics, but brilliant.

-- Posted by sleeper on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 5:07 AM

In addition, so the county needs a jail. If they followed the logic that the mayor and the city council of McCook did when deciding to build a new fire station, the county should propose an entire new facility to house everything the county does and leave the current buildings to rot and be tore down later after the new facility is built. I don't hear any of that kind of talk from the county commissioners and that is a good thing. They are attempting to live within their means unlike the city leaders of McCook. Maybe the Keystone could remodel the top three floors that are completely empty into the new county offices and convert the courthouse into the jail. That move alone would created more jobs than the City and Rex Nelson have tried to create over the past ten years with sales tax dollars and save the taxes payers a bunch of money. Oh I forgot that the if the county chose to use the same consultants that the city used to debunk using any old building, that would never fly. This would be laughable if they couldn't use my tax dollars for these pipe dreams like the public safety center and the Keystone disaster.

The county is in a very tough spot now and the city leaders have contributed to this situation and "dennis" aka the Mayor of McCook know this to be true. That is why he is on this blog citing all of the talking point he can to defend his decisions. I don't blame him for defending his positions, I simply disagree with how the Mayor goes about his job to lead McCook. Yes, I know run for city council and change things. Not possible. I have a job and a life the doesn't allow for that so I chose to simply voice my opinion.

-- Posted by sleeper on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 5:53 AM

sleeper, your cynical opinion (in addition to mine) will count when you put your name behind it. Until then, it means nothing. Run for city council. They don't have meetings during business hours. You say life doesn't allow for you to be involved, but I believe it would if you so chose. You claim to know a lot about the "goings-on" in this town, so do something about it instead of finding a scapegoat.

The county has way too big an ego to work with the city. It is a vicious cycle at best.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 7:52 AM

Not eligible to run for council as I don't live within city limits. I do however pay a lot in city sales tax every time I shop and contribute to the Mayors other job by paying a lot in Red Willow County property taxes for our public school system where he is currently employed. The current leaders of the council have a funny way of running a conservative out in a real quick manner. There isn't a true conservative on the council nor anyone that owns their own business. That should tell you a lot about how they approach spending money.

Does that mean I cannot be critical of the way the city spends the sales tax dollars because I couldn't vote for it even though I pay it every time I shop in McCook?

-- Posted by sleeper on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 8:57 AM

Sleeper, you are welcome to your opinion. If you have any facts to back up your opinion please share them. If you have facts to dispute the "talking points" please share them.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 9:06 AM

sleeper, you are basically throwing wild accusations around. dennis is right, back them up with some fact. Fortunately you have some writing skills or I'd think you were ironcat.

sleeper, have you visited another city recently? Did you buy anything there? Do you complain about paying city sales tax in that particular city/town? Lincoln for example: did you eat at one of their restaurants? They thank you for the arena you are helping them build. Go complain about that.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 9:49 AM

"ironcat"! speak-e-z, that was my EXACT inclination. I wonder. THAT'S FUNNY, weird but funny.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Sep 28, 2011, at 11:05 PM

dennis and speak-e-z, I tend to agree with everything sleeper says.

I particularly don't like paying taxes in a town that is governed by people that have little respect for the REAL and substantial taxpayers. This class of citizens used to be look upon as visionaries and pioneers but now are classified "RICH" by the government and therefore the only true source of funding for government projects in the past, present and future. The so called rich, that pay a majority of the taxes in this country, are mostly small businesses that employ many people that also pay taxes, buy goods and support communities.

Fact 1 - 2007 Sales Tax vote rushed to the ballot by the mayor and new city manager either to beat the county to the punch or for other funding ideas that were not openly discussed. I recall that the number one item to use sales tax proceeds for was to pay down the water debt and fix the water infrastructure, not a new public safety center. City Manager's first red flag that he was a closet liberal was his constant propaganda agenda to frighten the senior population with property tax raises. This vote could not wait till the regular 2008 election because the city needed to know right away. The city manager cites during the debate that this would allow the leaders to bond projects without going to the voters. Another liberal red flag. Liberals hate asking for permission to spend tax dollars.

Fact 2 - City purchased west ward property 6-12 months after the sales tax vote with surplus from previous sales tax year with the intention of building a new public safety center that was never on the 2007 sales tax ballot. Was it just luck that the city bought that property so soon?

Fact 3 - City begins to set aside 500K per year toward the new public safety center from the sales tax proceeded under the cover of "infrastructure". It used to be in the past, for project of this magnitude we put to a vote and bonded over years with property tax.

Fact 4 City begins the tours of the old facility and the fire fighters and police are the victims that they begin to use in the public to get the 2010 vote to apply sales tax to the building of the new public safety center. City hasn't even decided on a final plan before the vote and therefore the dollar amount is never going to be know. Why should they, they have the endless supply of sales tax dollars to fund it.

Fact 5 Dollar amount on the 2010 ballot is 1 - 1.5 million less than the total needed due to the fact that the city leaders pulled 500K per year to lower the sticker shock to the public. Kind of like the feds saying the first stimulus was less that a trillion dollars. The city leaders knew they could never sell 5 million plus public safety center on a ballot so they hide enough cash to make it appealing.

Fact 6 City manager leaves with less than 7 days notice. I find that very odd given the amount he was paid and how important he was to all of these efforts to get all of this spending pushed though. It really seems like McCook was a resume enhancement in that a liberal could disguise himself enough to fool a conservative community. The mayor couldn't say enough about how great he was for McCook but conservatives knew better after 5 years.

Please don't cite anymore points that the mayor is a Republican, he is a RINO or moderate at best. I think the current mayor has absolutely no intention of reducing the size of the local government and given his statements and record the people of McCook can expect the City of McCook to be more actively involved in their lives through regulations and higher taxes. His record indicates that government or the public sector know better than the private sector on how to spend money. They will have the county as the bad guy now for the property tax increase to hide everything they are doing with other taxes and fees on the city as citied in first post by dennis. Don't fool yourselves McCook, this local government is getting bigger and bigger beyond anything you can imagine with the current elected leadership. They know how to dress things up so you will buy it. Very good at marketing not so good as the results.

I am just a taxpayer voicing my opinions and am constantly tired of being asked to pay for more of this because I work hard and I am successful. No one from any level of the government has helped me achieve anything in life, but just the opposite they have reduced the amount of my success by punishing me for my achievements with higher taxes and the threat of more taxes because I am successful. Welcome to the new America and given what I see it is must change in order for America to remain the America that the founders of this nation envisioned.

-- Posted by Todd Cappel on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 8:33 AM

Todd, if you're being punished by the City government, I think you might consider what the federal government has done to you. Any "Sales Tax" burden that you are experiencing is small potatoes in comparison to what China has in store for you.

That extra 1/2 cent sales tax your paying now will look good in about a year and a half when the world currency denomination is threatened.

And by the way, count your lucky stars that your local government hasn't had to assist you, specifically those "victimized" fire & rescue folks. I don't like the government hammer any more than the next, BUT, who keeps the streets cleared and maintained, who repairs the broken water source & sewer pipes, who puts out the fires, who cares for & transports the injured, who maintains order?

"Stay out of my business" sounds great.... For a few days, but when the rubber meets the road, government, specifically our local government, does the work that no one else wants to.

When you step back and take a look at things from the outside, the "stay out of my business" motto doesn't work these days. 50 years ago, the American public was self sufficient and helped each other. Those days have passed and Americans today couldn't fathom not being able to run to the store for that last minute item or suffering through the weekend with pain opposed to running to the doctor or ER. Yes, government wastes money, but they always have. I remember 30 some years ago, hearing about the $150.00 toilet seat some government office procured. The bottom line is this.... We live in a day which we expect the roads to be clear and smooth and the price of everything is skyrocketing, (thanks to our demand for imports), therefore, it costs more to keep the roads clear and smooth... Our taxes are the offset to the increased expenditures, no different than the price we pay for milk at the store compared to ten years ago. Its called inflation, so quit buying your TVs from Indonesia, your cook-ware from China and those tools that you assemble your equipment with, from Japan so we can curb that inflation.

By the way Todd, the computer you used to log onto the Gazette website.... Where was it made?

-- Posted by PensiveObserver on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 2:17 PM

Todd you have truely been blessed to not need any governmental servces to be successful and rich. Most folks use the school systems, fire, police, rescue, parks, libraries, senior centers, roads, sewers and water. It was somewhat hard to follow your train of thought. Do you think it was good of the city to hold mulitlpe meetings and then let the citizens vote (twice on the sales taxes and once on the facility) or should the city just plowed ahead without the vote of the people? Was it good the city budgeted $500k for renovation or replacement of the safety center or should they not planned for expenses? You are correct that the city budget got bigger....the increase in the general fund budget that just passed was 1.3%. The increase was done without an increase in the mill levy. Todd, again I am happy for you that you are rich and successful. Not everyone has been so blessed. I also hope your bottom line in your business increases more than 1.3%

-- Posted by dennis on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 3:04 PM

i'm not generally a big fan of government at any level but PO & dennis make a good point. How is it that todd didn't take advantage of any of the things that the government partakes in? i understand that todd has a manufacturing outfit of sorts and to me it seems like transportation would be an intrical part of getting whatever he makes to his customers. i would think those "clear & smooth" roads would have an effect on him somehow. i would also guess he uses the local business'

which function via means of city and county infrastructure. how well was this thought out i wonder?

-- Posted by BTWinecleff on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 3:54 PM

Of course you can't follow my train of thought. Fine. I have never been able to follow your train of thought that the government can stimulate and grow economy by taking a dollar from one person and giving it to another to spend. That is no growth whatsoever.

I really don't consider myself rich but because I have worked hard I am supposed to support those who refuse to work. I understand lending a hand to those in need but here lately we are paying way too many people in this country to do nothing. I pay for fuel taxes for the roads, licensing fees, permits, etc. I don't mind paying taxes for infrastructure but when I see the city spending money to compete with the private sector then I have a problem with it. The other problem I have is when the government is not honest about what they intend to do when they raise taxes. Please show me all the news stories during the 2007 sales tax discussions about the new public safety center. I attended the town hall style meeting at the senior center and never once heard that project brought up. Nor did I hear of the investment in the Keystone Project during those discussions. Why? Please show me these and I will stand corrected or where those discussions during closed sessions that the public wasn't aware of? Seriously I would like to know when the public safety center was discussed prior to or during the sales tax discussion because I have yet to find it. I know that the vote for a joint center with the county happened in 2005 but what public discussions happen after that within the city.

I run a business and we have to balance a budget and compete in the free market. When it come to government there is no competition and therefore that is why most government agencies tend to be so inefficient. I really don't understand that and the old argument that is how it always has been doesn't work for me. It seems that when government runs out of revenue they raise taxes or fees versus cutting spending. Cutting spending is seems to be the last option with government.

We just have a difference of opinion here. I disagree with the entire city sale tax process beginning in 2007. I don't feel that it was completely on the up and up as you suggest. I felt that a lot of the process was misleading and according to you I am in the minority. That is ok. I do however see the link between what the city has done with the sales tax and building a public safety center to the current challenges facing the county. I might be the only one. Hopefully all the spending from the city will improve the lives of it's citizens and grow the population like you suggest but I am one that doesn't believe that it will.

-- Posted by Todd Cappel on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 9:06 PM

It just amazes me sometimes how people get so stuck on what happened and what's in the past and don't look ahead to the future. The way I understand from the past readings of your local Gazette is that one of the items on the list for sales tax was infrastructure. Does that not include city facilities? The people voted in SUPPORT of the sales tax. Then last year after several meetings, tours, and presentations for the public, the new public safety center was put to a vote of the people. The people voted in SUPPORT of the new safety center. This item did not need to be put on a ballot. However, the city in good faith decided to do so. Now, McCook and Red Willow County are looking at a jail facility. Let's worry about that Todd, not what happened a year ago, three years ago, five years ago.... My dad taught me at a very young age that I can have my disagreements and argue my point. But when a decision is made by a majority, usually both mom and dad, that decision is final. No matter how much I disliked it, I had to support it and abide by it. Like it or not, the majority voted in favor of the sales tax and the public safety center. All of the rest of your rhetoric is a mute point. Get over it.

-- Posted by McCook Supporter on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 9:36 PM

I find it interesting that I am the only one willing put my name to these comments. It is clear that you must support more taxes and not question the government in order be be considered a friend of McCook on this blog. Therefore this will be my last post and I will discuss these opinions elsewhere and in some other forum rather than the blogs. Thanks for setting me straight.

-- Posted by Todd Cappel on Fri, Sep 30, 2011, at 10:30 PM

William T Wineleff. you can call me bob though.

-- Posted by BTWinecleff on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 8:23 AM

William T Wineleff. you can call me bob though.

-- Posted by BTWinecleff on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 8:24 AM

I've always logged in under my name.... Nick Mercy. I am going to have to say this though, I don't consider the new Municipal Facility a frivolous expense. Things must be updated. The Coliseum in Rome was build to last and it still stands but I would hardly say it is worthy of public use the way it was intended.... which is good, but my point is this: The City has done a good job not only keeping the streets, parks and basic infrastructure in good order along with adding more visual improvements to the community such as the walking trails and new playground equipment. These things aren't gifted and they don't just show up without extensive planning and preparation. Do they throw a boom toward the population of the City? No, the walking trail in itself wasn't probably the thing that brought anyone to town, yet that combined with the good infrastructure, top notch Fire & Rescue team, a progressive hospital and a sound school system, retains the population and creates a since of stability therefore drawing in new business. New business creates new jobs, new jobs requires more people ergo, a boost in population. This does not happen overnight. It takes decades to promote large scale progression, but once the pieces are in place, the ball begins to roll.... once the ball begins to roll..... progression begets progression and things happen.

You don't plant a sapling to shade yourself, you plant it to shade the generations to come. If they plant a sapling then generations to follow will also have shade. If a generation stops that pattern, then things regress and it becomes a struggle to force the system back on track and that is what happened under strict conservative rule in the past. Sometimes it takes a non-personal push to make things happen. The City moves forward for the betterment of the community, the county pushes forward for the betterment of the South West Nebraska area. It's nice to have the support of the residents of the region; therefore ballets are put out there. But to think that progression can be done with no greater cost to those that reside in the area is a ridiculous notion and sometimes one must pull up their socks, look adversity square in the eye and take the cuts, scrapes and even broken bones that result from crawling out of cavern, otherwise one just sits and waits to die.

Nick Mercy

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 10:06 AM

No one forces people outside of McCook to shop in McCook and pay the sales tax. The county is also welcomed to start a sales tax for the unincorporated parts of the county. Every other town is also welcomed to start a sales tax too.

Dennis, I know you've asked those questions before, and I think the cost of transportation was posted in another article. Maybe I'm mistaken on that though.

Sleeper these days, unless you own the business, the job is just a resume builder. The average person switches jobs at least 7 times in their lifetime and it wouldn't surprise me if that number keeps going up.

Buildings wear down over time. I think Dennis and the council took the opportunity to fix that with a new building. Maybe the auditorium and city buildings were at the end of life yet but they are not far off. The police and fire departments needed to be upgraded. By adding the city offices into the new building money will be saved in the long run.

I also don't agree with Dennis on everything, Nor do I think him and the rest of council are doing enough promote McCook and bring in businesses. However, I honestly believe he's trying to do his best to keep the town relevant.

Also, my name is Nic Winder. my middle name is Paul if you honestly must know to make username is legit.

-- Posted by npwinder on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 10:55 PM

I applaud the county on addressing the jail issue. They need to work through what is the best solution for the county. My questions are for information purposes only so the citizens of the county will also have information to make their judgements upon. I believe the county and the city have worked together in the past on a variety of projects to the benefit of all city and county taxpayers. My belief is that they will still work together in the future.

-- Posted by dennis on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 10:51 AM

There is a peculiar issue that seems to pervade the tax payers in Red Willow County; they are too cheap to pay for infrastructure necessary to operate a "Real" Jail. If the jail is built it will likely outlast every poster on this blog, but "no" that might cost a taxpayer $46.00 a year when there are better alternatives available.

How about issuing ankle bracelets for each prisoner and have them monitored by "Tag-A-Con," or whatever the monitoring company's name happens to be.

Better yet, if there are only 7 to 15 prisoners at any given time why don't we just have each one of them stay at the homes of the City Council members along with the Red Willow County Commissioners? Then our elected officials would be paid for housing and boarding the prisoners. Again, that is the cheap way of doing things around Red Willow County.

-- Posted by FarmerJoe on Wed, Oct 5, 2011, at 5:22 PM

May I ask. In this time, without the normal rebuttle of "If not now then when", or "they left it for today", or any other usual comment, why can we not see that if we just wait a couple years, pay off some of the other incurred debt, the idea may not taste so sour to those of us who are paying the taxes.

Schools, Colleges, Streets, Sidewalks,Police stations Water Department, lets pay some down, then move forward. 2-3 years without major spending on "new" projects, and with as Mike Gonzales allured to "saving" "budjeting", and not "spending" everything that comes in to make it appear there is not enough, we should have plenty saved, and many debts payed down.

Who knows what buildings may become available to the city within the next few years.

-- Posted by cplcac on Wed, Oct 5, 2011, at 10:56 PM

Just approve it and get it built now.. So tired of everyone thinking they need to vote on everything. I would vote for anyone with ????'s to just get the jail job done vs letting the poor me mob in town try pushing back McCook's future vs being progresive and owning our jail. Bottomline we should have had a jail built 20-30 years ago and today it would be paid for at 25cents on the dollar compared to todays cost. Commissioners do you job and just get it built no vote needed we elected you to do a job so get it done.....

-- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Thu, Oct 6, 2011, at 10:58 PM

The projected construction cost index from 2011 to 2012 shows a national cost increase of 2.7%, up from last year's 1% increase. http://enr.construction.com/economics/ Now keep in mind that this is a national index not a Nebraska State index, the construction projects for Nebraska are actually on the upper end of the nation which directly relates to the cost of construction:

Supply & Demand

The more work there is, the less price breaks there are, therefore, in a strong market, the competition is not as cut-throat.

This is evident in the cost of the new MCC Event Center. There were out of state companies and subcontractors that were awarded the work as they were slow in their own market and slashed prices to keep their crews fed.

To put this into a useable format, numbers rounded for simplicity purposes, and the assumption that economy DOESN'T regain too much strength, the cost increases based on the preliminary figures would be as follows:

$5,105,800.00 for Option A1 * annual national increase of 2.7% = $137,856.00 in 2012,

Two Year price: $5,385,234.00

Three Year price: $5,530,636.00

Total Cost to wait 3 years: $424,836.00

I'm not saying that this is good or bad, these are just the facts as set forth by whatever actuators calculated the index.

The question to be asked is this..... Can we pay down half a million dollars and rid the tax payers of their current debt burden and still come out ahead in 2014 or will the costs be ultimately the same but we've spent the reported $197,000.00 annually (if memory serves correctly) for 3 years in transportation and bed rentals totaling a cost of $591,000.00 in the process?

I'm not doing the math on that one. This is only information to answer a question and help those which have the questions.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Oct 6, 2011, at 11:12 PM

you never save money by spending more. i'm not an economist but i'm 98% sure of that statement.

-- Posted by BTWinecleff on Fri, Oct 7, 2011, at 9:10 AM


Could not have stated it better than you have. 100% agreement!

-- Posted by FarmerJoe on Fri, Oct 7, 2011, at 9:15 AM

Jlake, you are the very one who gets down on people around this town for being progressive. Why the hipocrisy now? Everything you just said goes against everything you've posted about JBH. How can you be taken seriously?

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Fri, Oct 7, 2011, at 12:13 PM

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