Letter to the Editor

Get out of jail free card

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Editor,

What we are witnessing here in McCook with regard to building new facilities for the city and the county is like a game. I really don't know if the city leaders knew exactly what would happen after the special sales tax vote in 2007 or the vote for the city municipal building without allowing for holding cells but what they did in both cases put the Red Willow County commissioner's in a very tough position. The city leaders constantly remind the citizens of McCook and Red Willow County that the City of McCook has no responsibility in housing prisoners, as it is all on the county.

When the county asked to share the sales tax revenue during the run up to the special 2007 sales tax vote, the city leaders rejected the idea. This might indicate that maybe the city went after the maximum amount of local sales tax for their projects before the county could. There was a 1⁄2-percent that the county could have gone after, but the city had the special election in 2007, took the extra allowed by current law and allocated the 1⁄2-percent over to the MEDC which eventually was used to partially fund the Keystone Project. Then the city decided later to use sales taxes to fund the new municipal building. Yes, they put it to a vote in 2010 after setting aside 1 to 1.5 million dollars in sales taxes ahead of the vote, so the actual cost of the new city building wasn't on the ballot. Had anyone known that the city was going to build a new municipal center, not include holding cells and force the county to find another solution to incarcerate prisoners, they might not have been so willing to vote yes on the local sales tax vote of 2007 for the City of McCook. Isn't that interesting?

There is no room allowed for the county to use local sales taxes for the requirements of enforcing the law by incarcerating those that break the laws. The county doesn't enjoy the luxury of having the local sale tax to pay for the jail like the city does for the new city municipal center. Although there is now discussion from the city manager regarding LB 357, which is additional local sales taxes.

This might not be a good time to take the total sales tax rate in McCook to 9 percent for three reasons: 1) the tax very seldom goes away or is reduced, 2) historically the city and the county do not seem willing to work together for whatever reason and 3) the current local sales tax the city has in place is with very little accountability, meaning once the local sales tax of 2007 was in place, the city leaders changed the projects it was spent on.

Because the city and the county failed in 2006 on the joint facility, the city decided to do their own building. When exactly did the city decide that? It is unclear to me whether it was after the 2007 special local sales tax election or before. Are we to assume that if city/county could raise the sales tax limit together that they will all of the sudden decide to work together?

Where was all of this city/county cooperation during the last local sales tax debate? Absent as noted before. Now rest assured property taxes will go up and you can ask those that supported the increase in local sales taxes and a city only facility, why? Although they will hide behind the fact that city didn't directly raise property taxes, their actions will result in property taxes going up.

So the next time you ponder about property taxes going up and start complaining about the jail being build on Norris Avenue, take a drive by the new City of McCook municipal center and the Keystone Business Center. These projects were held up as tax neutral (free) to the taxpayers within the City of McCook because they were funded with local sales tax dollars and grants from the US Federal Government.

The new county jail should be paid for the old fashion way, with a levy against property within the county. Either way you vote, it will hold the county accountable for an actual number for the new building. This isn't a game and all of these projects will cost real taxpayer money.

Todd Cappel,


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  • Mr. Cappel, with all due respect, I beleive some of your statements are incorrect. In no special order; 1) multiple open meetings, tours of facilities and media reports stated that the city was NOT going to include holding cells. This was done well in advance of the vote approved by the citizens of McCook. The county was even offered the use of the current facility. If citizens did not know that the county would need to make decisions on future jails, it was not that anyone was hiding anything. 2)To my knowledge LB 357 has not been passed nor has any discussion been held about putting an additional city sales tax to a vote. 3)I can not think of one project that the city used city sales tax on that was not on the orginial lists created by the taxpayers. I do agree with you that the total cost of the new city facility was not on the ballot as the city did have dollars set aside to make repairs to the current facility if the vote failed. These dollars were then transfered to be used for the new facility. The county, rightfully so, did the samething in their property purchases. That is what I think is good budgeting. Thye city council is elected to represent the city and the commissioners the county. They must first consider the people they represent. If the city could have "given" the county city sales tax dollars then the city would have had to increase city property tax to fund the projects they needed to do. This would not be good to the city taxpayers. (The county can levy a sales tax in the other county towns if they choose to do so). I also agree that it would be good if the entire jail project would be put to a vote, however I commend the county for moving on their responsibility to house inmates.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 8:45 AM
  • dennis,

    Please direct me to all of the Gazette stories prior to the 2007 sales tax increase that discussed that the sales tax proceeds would be used to build a city municipal center and refurbishing the Keystone. I know that the term "infrastructure" was used on the ballot but I don't remember public discussions of the City Municipal Center prior to the 2007 sales tax vote. Rather than just your word, please back it up with some proof. Please provide the public with these news items.

    Are you saying that the residents of McCook do not reside in Red Willow County and that city needs trump county needs? You are illustrating the main point of very little cooperation between the city and county.

    They did vote for the jail when the citizens of McCook voted for a city only facility in 2010.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 9:47 AM
  • I really do not save the paper nor know what was printed four years ago. I do know that I attended the meetings and discussion was held on both regarding being infrastructure. The Keystone was out front as an MEDC project and half of the sales tax increase went to fund the MEDC. I am clearly not saying McCook is not in Red Willow Co. and McCook needs trump county needs. I am saying that if McCook could "give" the county city sales tax money then the money the city gave the county would not be available for city projects. I also do not believe McCook citizens voted for a jail when they voted for a city facility. There was and is other options. And finally on cooperation, the city offered their current facility to the county, the city offered to have the county build a second floor on the new city facility, at county cost. The county looked at those options and decided to do something other than that. I do not fault the county for making those decisions. Todd, you have not been a fan of the city for years but please do not try to fan the flames of pitting the city against the county. We are in this together.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 11:11 AM
  • Check Jan. 26, 2010 Gazette for an article on open communication on a combined facility.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 11:15 AM
  • dennis,

    So speaking out is now considered fanning flames of pitting the city against the county. That ship sailed long ago and before I started commenting on it publicly. The city does not like explaining themselves in all of this and are looking for cover when it comes to the decisions they made with respect to how they are spending the sales tax dollars. I will let those I do business with in McCook decide whether I am a fan of the City of McCook, not some politician. I think the manner in which the city leaders conducted themselves with respect to the sales tax issue was not completely ethical and I have stated it before. I do not agree with your opinions stated here and that is still my right no matter how much you try to re-write the history of this.

    "We are in this together" Don't make me laugh. If you are in it together, why are there two separate facilities? I know the voters rejected it in 2006. I can't wait to see how the city tries to stop the new county facility from being built on Norris Avenue.

    Can't find your article. Please send the link.....

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 12:02 PM
  • One other thing dennis,

    I am assuming this the the same dennis from 2008:


    I contacted you personally then to dispute the use of the sales tax for the city only facility after you attacked my family business and accused them of relocating outside city limits to avoid the city sales tax.

    Rather than respect a differing opinion on the matter you have once again attacked not only a private citizen but a business owner in the community, that pays taxes, by questioning how much I support McCook. I'll let my deeds and the jobs I create define that rather than the opinions of a politician who's motives are unclear to me at this time.

    I hate to point this out but you don't even realize what you are doing here as a distinguished member of the political class within the the city of McCook. You are keeping this story alive and more people will begin to ask more questions as this moves forward. There are two sides to every argument and you do not get to define the other side. Have a debate and let the public decide. You have said that the public is decided on this matter from a city perspective. If that is the case why are you so defensive on this? Besides this is a debate for all of Red Willow County and the debate will move forward.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 1:13 PM
  • I read that old article and the comments. It's funny because the mayor complains about past councils dragging their feet even though he was a part of one of those past councils that did nothing to correct the water problem. By the time he was appointed, the council had already voted to treat the water. It's so funny to see someone try to criticize problems they contributed to and then after someone else comes up with a solution, they jump on the bandwagon and hope people forget their past incompetence. A true politician there, messes up and takes credit for a solution others found to fix your mistakes.

    -- Posted by hometown1 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 2:16 PM
  • The current mayor was appointed Sept. 2004. He was elected by the council to be mayor in Dec 2004. The vote to use the ion method to clean the water--essentially to build the treatment plkant was June 2005. Until 2004 the council was still going back and forth on the North well field plan. hometown1 feel free to post an apology.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 3:16 PM
  • According to the city of McCook website it indicates he began service as a councilman in 1994.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 3:59 PM
  • Served for two years and did not run for re-election

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 5:24 PM
  • You have got to be kidding me. Apologize for the truth? I think you should know better than anyone why there was the need for an appointment in the first place. It was because Jerry Reitz wasn't pleased with the council's decision to treat the water and resigned. You were appointed AFTER the vote to treat the water had already been made and a contract had already been signed with an engineering firm to design a water treatment facility--essentially to build the treatment plant. You couldn't have backed out of it, if you wanted to. A legally binding contract had been signed and an agreement was already being negotiated with the state to build a water treatment facility.

    So, with a contract already signed, the council had to select a type of treatment whether it was ion exchange or some other method. I'm sure you also decided where the doors should go but the decision to build it in the first place was not yours and it's disingenuous to claim otherwise. You took over what they started and deserve credit for continuing what they started. Oh, and the vote for the ion exchange method was made in September 2004 not June 2005.

    You were also a part of the council that was on, I believe their 7th extension to come into compliance and burned through more extensions as you chose to seek out wells like so many other councils. Those wells turned out to be insufficient despite being way over budget.

    I can only apologize for exposing your statements for what they are which is spin filled with inaccuracies. Sorry about that but those are just the facts, no spin.

    Here are some links that actually back up my statements:

    Jerry Reitz resigns due to council choosing to treat water. (August 2004)


    City council moving swiftly to meet deadlines for building a water treatment plant. (August 2004)


    City chooses ion exchange as treatment method. (September 2004)


    -- Posted by hometown1 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 6:13 PM
  • uddy that failed to show up to work several times and by extension was consequently relieved of his duties and therefore lost his apartment and asked me if he could camp at my place. Being the compassionate guy that I am, I said "Sure, you can stay until you get back on your feet.". 9 months later he was sleeping on my couch, paying none of the expenses, and without employment when I told him that I was moving from Lincoln to Omaha. His eyes showed shock when he asked me "When?". "The 1st of the month". "So that's it? You're just going to pick up and leave? What am I going to do?". I was taken aback by his question because I was apparently putting him out by not giving him time to get it together, carrying his backside for the past 3/4 of a year, but..... "I suppose you can move to Omaha with me, get a fresh start." I replied. "You expect me to just pick up and go?" At this point I said "No.... No I don't! In fact, I don't want you to, I was offering let you tag along at 100% YOUR benefit and frankly I prefer that you just take care of your own business.". End of friendship.

    I was known amongst his circle of friends as the backstabber that put him to the streets.

    Let me repeat that.... I was known amongst his circle of friends as the backstabber that put him to the streets. Can you imagine that? The gull of these guys for making me out to be the villain here right?

    If only he could have foreseen the future and that he may have to one day stand on his own two feet. But who could have called that one?

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 6:31 PM
  • Hometown you rock You have him running now.

    -- Posted by rifleman on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 6:36 PM
  • As I am in construction, I was involved for several years of annual repair estimates for the City of McCook. Projecting costs of repairs for 3 to 5 years so budgets could be set. We did repairs, as needed. I assure you Todd, the City did budget for repairs on City facilities, which was not so much insightful as it was having both a heartbeat and the knowledge that things were going to need repairs. It doesn't take the mind of an atom splitter to prepare for future needs.

    I also would like to stick up for myself, I was quite informed of what I was voting for with the Municipal Facility. Now either I have ESP, a grand intuition or I was made aware of things, specifically via the news paper and radio and an occasional sit in at the City Council meeting. If you were not aware of what was going on, then it was YOUR lack of effort that was the cause of that. Furthermore, I was aware that moneys set aside for the new Municipal Facility would be used to make repairs on the existing buildings should the voters wish NOT to build. What did I say? "should the voters wish NOT to build." What?! The voters had a choice?

    Finally, Todd, you seem to think that those which support the City don't think they reside in Red Willow County. I'm sure we all know that, but here's a sharp stick in the eye.... So are several other towns in the county. Why should McCook be on the short list of towns responsible for the county's jail plight? Shouldn't we be getting on all the towns collectively? Oh, its because McCook didn't give the county enough time to "get it together" and put the county out on the street.

    Seems to me that the county should have stepped forward and accepted the offer to join services huh?

    So to be clear Todd... Your solution.... If you do indeed have one, is that McCook should have remained in the existing facilities and allowed the county to sleep on the couch. Pay for the ongoing upgrades and repairs, which is unavoidable with old buildings, and wait for the county to "get back on its feet".

    The thing is, I'm not sure that you do have a solution. It would appear that your 20/20 hindsight has allowed you to point out the issues that everyone can see.

    96% of the population can identify a problem, only about 10% will offer a solution. You really don't need to enlighten the public of the problem, only 4% don't see it. If you have a solution, then THAT is what would be appreciated... Otherwise you're just complaining.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 7:02 PM
  • I stand corrected in that it was Sept. not June 04. July 04 the council, which had been discussing the possibility of a plant since at least May 04,had a tie vote on selecting an engineering firm to explore building a plant. Aug 04 Jerry resigned. Sept. 04 Berry appointed and council approves contract to design and to request state permit. April 05 construction firm selected. http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/10903

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 7:39 PM
  • I attended the public meeting at the Heritage Senior Center that was scheduled to discuss the new city facility. At that meeting, not only was it made clear that the new facility would not have jail cells, a man spoke who I believe said he was on the board that drafted the language and targeted projects for the additional sales tax. He said the new Municipal Facility was exactly the type of project the board was targeting and had communicated to the public that the tax money would be used for.

    -- Posted by Bruce Baker on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 10:16 PM
  • Mr. Cappel:

    I believe that the city made it perfectly clear as to the new city facility, I attended most of the special meetings and they always made it clear that they no longer were going to be in the jail business. Of the people there that were opposed to the new building, were usually more concerned with saving West Ward than anything. I never did think the city should pour a half million dollars into a money pit that would end up being repaired again in a few years.

    I think that there is yet another angle on this, why in the devil did the county commissioners from 1982 on continue to drag their feet and not build a new jail? We can what if's all day long, but if somewhere along the line, they would have built a jail, instead of worrying about raising the mill levy for the last 30 years, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.Perhaps it could be said that the county by dragging their feet for 30 years, has put itself in a tough position. At least the present commissioners have finally been forced to do something, and now we can all pay for the 30 years of kicking the issue down the road.

    If my memory serves me right, I believe the county has been sinking money into a jail fund for years in anticipation of building a new jail, where has all that money went, what has it been used for?

    Lastly, the special election for a joint facility a few years ago, never had a chance to pass in my humble opinion, neither the city nor county really wanted it, and the plans showed it, way too much duplication of facilities, within in a new building, it was almost like one side had an illness and the other didn't want to be close to the "other side".

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Tue, Feb 28, 2012, at 11:24 PM
  • I still cannot find a Gazette story regard the discussions of specifically using the increased and renewed local sales tax of 2007 for a New Municipal Center for the City and the Keystone Project. It may have been common knowledge in some circles such as the coffee shop talk but I cannot find the public records. Please someone find documentation of all of this talk and send it to me. I even called the Gazette and asked them to do a search for those news stories prior to the 2007 sales tax vote. I have a business to run and cannot attend all of the meetings in Red Willow County and the City of McCook, so I depend on this publication to bring that information to me through their reporting on the issues.

    I was clear in my opposition for using sales taxes to build the new city building because it should have been bonded to a levy on the property in the city. That would have been a difficult sell and probably would have forced the city and county to revisit the joint facility and do a better job of designing and selling the concept together. I see that the city did their own thing. You can draw your own conclusions from those actions.

    If anyone at any public meeting had stated the use of sales tax dollars for a city municipal center during the 2007 debate on the sales tax, I believe the Gazette would have published that information. Go search the archives, the Gazette published all of the nutty ideas such as a tax funded grocery store downtown and free wi fi for all residents in April of 2007. Surely a project with the magnitude of the new City Public Safety Center would have made the news articles prior to Nov 2007.

    Now I know that there are those that say, let this go, but how else do we hold our public officials accountable if not by using our first amendment rights.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 6:40 AM
  • 30 second search reveals the city manager references it : http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1218261.html

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    It may not be the best approach to wait until years after a topic is in the news and base your opinion on stories archived on the Gazette website. Not all stories are published online.

    -- Posted by Bruce Baker on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 8:29 AM
  • Nice try. It doesn't say anything about a City Only Municipal Center. Just that those that pay the sales taxes uses the fire and police departments. Pretty non-specific.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 8:37 AM
  • Uther,

    I have been talking about the local sales tax use since 2007, so I didn't just bring it up as you suggest. Do another 30 second search and you will find that I have written about this very same issue in the past.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 9:14 AM
  • dennis,

    Earlier you said June 05 so that's about 9 months off from the actual September 04 date that's why I was puzzled about where you came up with that date. June 05 was when the council bought the land for the new wells. Again, this is the same thing the previous council had already begun and even involved one of the landowners who offered it to them in Feb 2004 as part of their plan to drill new wells and build a treatment plant.

    I'm assuming you were trying to post a link to a page about a timeline that goes up to 2005 but you missed a few characters in the address bar so I've posted the link below for you. I also didn't see a tie vote on selecting an engineering firm to build a treatment plant but I did see a unanimous decision to seek proposals from engineers to build a treatment plant and a 3-2 decision to select W Design/Jacobsen Helgoth as the engineers charged with the task of designing the new water treatment plant.


    Feb 04- Council decides to build water treatment plant and drill new wells.


    May 04- Council decided to seek proposals from engineering firms for a water treatment plant.


    June 04- Council submits compliance schedule to state which includes building a treatment plant.


    July 04- Council hears proposals from engineering firms.


    August 04- Council approves the contract with the engineering firm to design the water treatment facility to be built and thus Jerry Reitz resigns.


    As you can see, the previous council was on top of the issue, made the right decision to treat the water THEN they appointed you and you continued to carry out the decisions they had already made by selecting a construction firm, getting the proper state permits, door locations, etc.

    I'm just calling you out for trying to make it appear as though the decision to build a water treatment plant was your decision when clearly it was not.

    -- Posted by hometown1 on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 11:15 AM
  • Todd,

    Here ya go, just like you wanted.


    -- Posted by hometown1 on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 11:27 AM
  • hometown1, the previous councils did the ground work. When Berry entered the council he just followed through with their decisions. No arguement there. This blog has however gotten far off the orginial letter of Mr. Cappel.

    -- Posted by dennis on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 11:37 AM
  • Todd, it was discussed at several public meetings that a public safety center could be a possible use for sales tax money before the vote. However, it did not receive a whole lot of emphasis in passing the sales tax and as far as I know, it wasn't heavily discussed by any council members at the time but nonetheless, it was mentioned to the public. Our main focus was on renewing the sales tax so that we could keep up on the roads and other infrastructure improvements as well as keeping our public parks updated and in good shape.

    Since the council was looking at contributing nearly an entire 1/2% towards a public safety center, we decided to put it to the voters because the sales tax obligation was so large and we wanted to be sure that voters wanted that much of their sales tax money going towards a public safety center. We didn't have to put it to the voters but I'm glad we did.

    -- Posted by Aaron Kircher on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 12:13 PM
  • Hometown1, that story was dated Thursday, April 22, 2010, well after the original sales tax vote of 2007.

    Aaron, I can't understand why the Gazette didn't publish the info about the public safety center if it was so publicly discussed. I personally attended the meeting at the Senior Center in 2007 and wasn't even mentioned or placed on the whiteboards.

    You indicate that the renew of the sales tax was focused on the roads and keeping up the parks. How are those projects being funded now?

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 1:14 PM
  • Yeah, the council doesn't have any control over the Gazette (as it should be) so I don't know why it didn't make it in the paper but there were a lot of potential projects discussed such as the public safety center, roads, street lights, paying down water debt, MEDC funding, property tax reduction, signage, water/sewer improvements and capital improvements in general. I'm not saying it was heavily discussed or anything and that's why we had the vote in 2010.

    Roads and public parks, as a couple of the areas I mentioned, are still funded as they were before the vote to renew the sales tax. Roads and public parks are paid with a mixture of sales tax dollars, grants (if they're available), federal and state aid programs, general fund revenues and the occasional donation such as the one to establish Russel Park.

    I'm not going to pretend like other areas didn't take a hit by the public safety center receiving so much sales tax because they did. It's in the neighborhood of $500,000 that goes towards repaying that debt, I believe. I acknowledged that back in 2010 and I acknowledge it now but a public safety center was needed a long time ago and the city offices were going to need to be moved at some point in the near future. With construction costs not getting any cheaper, it made sense to consolidate and save taxpayer dollars now rather than spend more taxpayer dollars later.

    It's very rare that a city of our size is in the position to pay off a multi-million dollar project in less than 10 years so I'm glad that opportunity was given to us by the voters.

    I wish I could be the one to convince you of how much this project was needed but we're both entitled to our own opinions. I just wanted to verify that it was mentioned in 2007, albeit, briefly. I also wanted to just offer some insight as to why we proceeded the way we did or at least my own personal take on why we proceeded the way we did since I can't speak for the other council members.

    -- Posted by Aaron Kircher on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 6:06 PM
  • Past publicity aside, I know that SOMEHOW I was privy to the knowledge that the sales tax was to be used... And furthermore, regardless whether I knew about that in 2007 or not, I knew about it when the issue came to vote. Those that didn't wish the sales tax to be used to fund the Municipal Facility, voted against, those that voted for the Facility had no issue with the sales tax being used that way.

    I might be wrong, but it would almost seem as though more were FOR the use of the sales tax to be used in that direction than those opposed.... Either that or we're mining for gold at the intersection of West 5th and C streets.

    Todd, simply put.... If the majority DIDN'T want the sales tax used this way, it wouldn't have been, and yours becomes a mute point as it would be sales tax spent on roads, parks and infrastructure anyway. (By the way, I haven't seen any shortfalls in the way of streets, parks, and infrastructure... Things are looking better than they have for quite sometime).

    Back to the topic matter.... The COUNTY JAIL, I don't believe I was given the opportunity to vote my opinion, a right that I as a registered voter should realize. So while you bash the City for all the underhanded sneaky methods they employed to get the new Facility built, but still giving the public their authority to make the final decision.... Ask yourself this Todd, was the public shown that same respect form the County?

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 10:31 PM
  • While I'm reflecting on this whole ordeal, I might also bring to point that in 2007 there was no mention of the use of sales tax being specifically used to cut down the dying trees at Norris Park. Perhaps things come up that might not be anticipated. Sure, that might be considered park upkeep, but then again, wouldn't the Municipal Facility be construed as infrastructure? Without a working, public usable administration office (up to required code), as well as a dependable Emergency Response Center, it's difficult to properly serve the public.

    The county needs a jail..... beyond that, the similarities cease to exist. The manner in which the which each entity proceeded was not the same. It wasn't the City's issue that the jail was out of date, I mean it was, but the use of the jail was the county's. So Todd, you say that the City supporters don't feel as McCook is in Red Willow County..... I say to you, why do you feel that those that live and own property within the McCook city limits should carry the extra burden of the entire county. Shouldn't that be evenly divided amongst the entire population of the county?

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Wed, Feb 29, 2012, at 11:42 PM
  • Aaron,

    Thanks for your explanation of your position regarding the sales tax. I appreciate it. You always seem to make more sense of things and from what I remember, you were not afraid to question things such as spending and debt. It is a shame that you are no longer in office. You were one of the few councilmen here lately that was elected first rather than appointed by the mayor. The mayor of McCook it seems has about three aliases on these blogs to defend certain positions. Like I said before, it is keeping this issue alive and shining a light on it. Simply put I have a different opinion on the matter. I knew full well, prior to publication, that Nick Mercy and dennis would have the most comments. I will say I am surprised that speak-e-z isn't here.

    I am still looking for the stories that discussed the use of sales tax prior to the vote of 2007 to specifically use sales taxes for a City Only Municipal Center and the Keystone Project. It is a what is but it is my opinion had those been documented in more detail in a publication such as the Gazette the results might have been different in 2007. We will never know because we can't vote on it again. Isn't that convenient?



    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 6:29 AM
  • Nick,

    I know what we can do to settle this. Let's get a county sales tax of 1/2 percent, let them collect it for 3 years and then put it to a vote with only a price tag of $3.6 million for the new County Law Enforcement Center instead of $5.1 million. Then and only then will it be fair.

    Fair? Isn't that the biggest selling point of the 2007 sales tax? Many pro sales tax supporters in the city said that was the only way to make the rest of the county pay their fair share for the services they use in McCook, such as the streets, fire and police. The residents of the county are paying far more than their fair share for the new city only building that they will get very little benefit from. No one outside the city were allowed to vote on the city sales tax or the change in spending it in 2010. At least the residents of the city can vote on where the money will come from. I fully expect that those city only types will force the county to do it within the levy which is not right as they gave the city a blank check with the sales tax vote.

    Correct me if I am wrong but the county is obligated by law to incarcerate prisoners but was the city facing the same issue when they decided to construct the new municipal center?

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 6:49 AM
  • Nick,

    I am not trying to bash the city. It is my opinion that the sales tax vote of 2007, the new city municipal center and the new county law enforcement center are all linked together when it comes to the total tax bill for the residents of Red Willow County. It is my opinion and you are free to disagree with it. Like I said before to dennis, it is great that you are helping keep this alive and let the debate continue.

    You are making this too easy, Nick.

    Have fun.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 6:58 AM
  • Nick, may I ask which streets you drive on, because the ones I drive on are in serious need of repair, the alley's are in better condition. Just Say'in

    -- Posted by ruby4 on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 5:06 PM
  • Ruby: West 10th, West J, West 7th, West 1st, East 1st, East 11th, East H Street, East M, I can go on.... What are the bad streets is the more appropriate question. Which pothole littered streets are you traveling? Also, what parks are in such poor condition?

    I was in a nearby town recently that had just put on a fresh coat of oil on the main drag. When I asked what they were going to do to it they replied: "We just redid them, what do you mean?"

    Todd, if I may, allow me to pose a question.....

    What prohibits the other towns in this county from assessing a city sales tax? I know that Curtis did so, (I do know that Curtis is not in Red Willow County) and frankly, they did great things with it. It's a valuable tool to keep a city moving in the right direction. This is an earnest question by the way, perhaps only county seats can have city sales tax options..... as I think about it, it does seem that the towns that have them are county seats, Imperial, North Platte and such. It truly is a good way to make sure things are maintained.

    To be clear, I do support the jail.... I think Red Willow County has shipped out its prisoners AND its money to other counties for too long. For me it's not a matter of whether it should be built, just the way they went about it. You see, what I think and fifty cents will by me a cup of coffee, but collectively, everybody's fifty cents adds up to a worthwhile project. But everyone needs to put in their 50 cents..... we just have a few bucks that the commissioners have contributed to this endeavour and I'm pretty sure it will require more than that.

    Perhaps everyone does want the jail. Maybe a majority wishes to pack the prisoner's suitcases with room and board money and send them packing to another county. I'm simply saying that it's somewhat difficult to tell when there isn't a sanctioned count of opinions.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 6:30 PM
  • I am honored that you'd call me out little buddy. Be careful what you wish for. Ask and ye shall receive. Some people have to work during the day though. How many ways do I have to say that I am not opposed to a jail. How many times do I have to explain that I have a problem with both entities trying to prove that each is the bigger dog while the taxpayer is left with the bill. "Nick Mercy" just typed it six different ways so I wasn't going to do the same, but we have a problem with being run over. At least now we get a say about with which truck we get run over. The good commissioners have spoken.

    -- Posted by speak-e-z on Fri, Mar 2, 2012, at 8:23 AM
  • Looks like some sour grapes on sales tax vote and the fact county commissioner stepping up and doing what should have been done 25 years ago before sending millions of dollars to area jails to house our prisoners and today the jail would be debt free vs still having nothing but Hilton hotel rates to pay ??

    Amazing the distorted facts coming from Todd C. but good thing for area that regardless McCook is moving forward on many needed projects to keep it running into the next few decades vs letting everything go downhill and relying on the next generation in charge of everything to pay for all updates vs doing it when it needs to be done which was ignored for many to years by county and city leaders and voters because alway said we cant afford it?? we cant afford not to stay updated and jail rental money pit was clearly a huge finacial hole for all taxpayers and finally getting it fixed longterm.....

    Please dont forget property owners are geting a break with sales tax helping keep property taxes lower so i doubt any difference on salestax vote period so get over it and move on.

    -- Posted by Cornwhisperer on Fri, Mar 2, 2012, at 9:25 AM
  • Dead horse but the official date the contract was signed for W-Design to begin work building the water treatment plant was signed by Mayor Garey Sept. 14, 2004. The council did a lot of work arriving at that decision prior to that date and should be given credit for that.

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 2:51 PM
  • On cooperation: the May 10 county comissioners meeting minutes recoreded the commissioners voted 2-1 to not accept the mayor's invitations to have a joint facility on the West Ward site. The minutes state that one reason was they had already purchased property near the court house for their facility.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Mar 6, 2012, at 8:19 AM
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