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City may hike limit requiring architect, engineer

Friday, May 18, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Another procedural change pertaining to how city staff handles future purchases will be considered by the McCook City Council. After raising the purchasing limit of city staff earlier in the month, councilors will consider more than doubling the project dollar amount that triggers the required involvement of an engineer or architect. Public works projects that reach the $40,000 limit require the involvement of an architect or professional engineer, city staff is proposing that amount be increased to $100,000.

The three-reading rule has been proposed to be suspended for the item, making finalization of the changes likely to occur during their semi-monthly meeting, Monday evening, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Auditorium.

According to the meeting agenda the changes are due to recent changes at the legislative level.

During a meeting earlier this month councilors approved an ordinance change that increased the purchasing limit of city staff from $20,000 to $30,000, similarly suspending the three-reading rule and citing legislative changes.

Councilman Mike Gonzales asked what the reasoning behind suspension of the three-reading rule was and City Clerk Lea Ann Doak responded that there was no hurry, the changes were just to agree with state law. Former city councilman Aaron Kircher responded to Doak's statement that the change was not being made to get into compliance but to increase the amount to the new maximum allowed by state law.

Kircher contended that the council had previously supported the $20,000 amount so that vehicle purchases would be brought for approval and would also require they be sent out to bid, adding the higher amount could have a negative impact on local dealers.

City Manager Jeff Hancock replied that was not the intent and he still planned to bid out and have council approve all vehicle purchases.

"If that is your intent then it should be stated in the law," responded Kircher, adding that 20 years from now if the details were not written into the ordinance it would be unreasonable to expect people to know the intent when the change was approved.

Councilors offered no further comment and unanimously approved the change, as well as the suspension of the three-reading rule pertaining to it, eliminating the opportunity of any further public comment on the topic.

McCook Economic Development Director Rex Nelson will present a Community Housing Report on specific initiatives already under way or impending. According to a summary of the five-year initiative 162 new housing units are targeted with 85 to be owned and 77 rentals. 24 acres are targeted for residential development.

City staff has recommended W Design Associates be granted the engineering work for the third phase of the McCook walking trail. The next phase will extend from East H Street to East 11th Street and has been hailed as the most scenic portion of the entire walking trail project.

The city was granted $110,005 from the Nebraska Game and Park recently and the total cost of the third phase is estimated to be just over $143,000. Miller & Associates and W Design Associates bid on the engineering work, with Miller & Associates coming in at $28,500 and W Design Associates at $27,750.

Councilors will coordinate a public hearing to receive comments pertaining to a proposed subdivision on Elizabeth Lane, part of an expansion project by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The McCook Planning Commission voted unanimously in May to approve the request.

A second public hearing pertaining to a rezone request of three lots in the Fairacres Addition will also be coordinated. That request was also unanimously approved by the McCook Planning Commission in May.

Other items on the consent and regular agenda:

* City Manager Jeff Hancock will distribute a strategic plan related to the city budget, derived in part from the Strategic Planning Session coordinated in April. Councilors will discuss the plan and target their June 4 meeting for a follow-up discussion and possible adoption of the plan.

* Councilors will consider the second of three readings on to the implementation of an arborist license, to be required by any business engaged in the pruning or removing trees within the city. The license will require a $75 annual fee and proof of liability insurance with minimum amounts of $500,000 per occurrence. Larry Eisenmenger with MNB Insurance in McCook provided the Gazette with an estimated cost for the liability coverage at $650 annually.

* An engineering agreement for a project to make drainage improvements in the E. Ninth Street and G Street area will be considered.

* Approval of the contract with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for congregate meals, home delivered meals and transportation services will be considered. Congregate meal reimbursement will remain the same at $5.36; waiver meal reimbursement will increase from $5.23 to $5.31; and the transportation reimbursement will remain at the $2 level received from AMR and the Department of Health and Human Services. Total reimbursement for all services is anticipated to be at $26,400 for the fiscal year.

* The Local Interact Club has requested to close portions of several city streets the evening of June 17 for a run to raise funds to help with the purchase of a water well for a needy community in Africa.

* A proclamation will be considered designating May 20-26, 2012, as "Emergency Medical Services Week."

* Schmick's Market has requested a special liquor license for three wedding receptions at Memorial Auditorium. The receptions are scheduled for July 21, Aug. 4 and Aug. 18, 2012.


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