McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook City Council declared seats previously occupied by councilmen Aaron Kircher and Shane Hilker as vacant, Tuesday evening, during their regular meeting at Council Chambers.
Mayor Dennis Berry said that similar vacancies had been filled without the expense of a special election, which he believed to be in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, and he recommended proceeding with the appointment process to fill the seats.
Councilmen Mike Gonzales and Jerry Calvin voiced their agreement with Berry, as did a citizen in attendance, who said he opposed a special election from an economic standpoint and thought the mayor should appoint individuals to fill the vacancies.
City staff was subsequently directed to publish notice of the vacancies. Interested citizens were instructed to provide the city clerk with a letter of interest and a resume prior to 4 p.m., Jan. 11, 2012.
The vacated seats will be filled by appointees approved by a majority of council members and will perform the duties until the November 2012 general election. Both seats will then be filled by elected persons, one for a term of four years and the other for a term of two years.
Councilors conducted a public hearing to discuss the approval of a West Fifth Street water main replacement project and expediting the replacement of residential and commercial water meters. The addition of the two projects to the current budget is being considered due to their qualification for the State Revolving Fund program, which would provide for a loan forgiveness of 20 percent of the cost of the projects.
Utility Director Jesse Dutcher estimated the two projects to cost in the $1,400,000 range. Participation in the SRF program would provide a savings of more than $280,000, but would require a five percent water rate increase.
Dutcher said that after further review he no longer believed the water meter replacement project was in the best interest of the city to expedite, but the West Fifth Street project would be.
Dutcher said the West Fifth Street project was necessary to avoid potential low water pressure issues on the west side of McCook. He explained it was not currently at a point of critical water pressure, but with the growth that is being seen in that area it was not "outside the realm of possibilities," for that to be the case in the near future.
Dutcher said that without the savings that the SRF program provides, the West Fifth Street project would require a 10 percent water rate increase.
According to Dutcher the council does not have to make an immediate decision on the matter, but the project would have to apply for the program within the next three years.