(Bruce Crosby/McCook Daily Gazette)
The preliminary plan was drafted by City Manager Jeff Hancock from input provided by councilors and city department heads during their strategic planning session in April.
The budget plan will be reviewed during the council's semi-monthly meeting, Monday evening, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Auditorium.
Housing development was also a key topic during the council's previous meeting, when they were presented with a community housing report that detailed specific local initiatives already underway or being pursued. Other short-term priority projects in the proposed plan, targeted to occur in the next 1-2 years, include development of a city equipment replacement program, in- stallation of a new 16-inch water main and installation of a new information sign at Norris Avenue and B Street.
The budget plan's highest ranked long term project, sales tax revenue, has also been a key topic in recent city council meetings. During the May 7 meeting former councilman Aaron Kircher claimed that the amount of sales tax received in the city's general fund as "property tax relief," exceeded the difference between the actual levy amount and the maximum levy limit. Kircher explained that the revenue was greater than what would come in if the city property tax levy were increased to its maximum amount and should require a reduction in the levy to balance.
The city manager's report later indicated that city staff met with Kircher in a follow-up meeting and Hancock recently indicated to the Gazette that a public response to the claim would be made available in the near future.
A sales tax report from the city clerk's office shows that as of October 2011 the city had accumulated $1.9 million in unspent sales tax receipts and earned more than $12,000 in interest in 2010 from the unspent funds.
Other long-term priority projects on the proposed budget plan, targeted to occur in the next 3-5 years, include a land plan for housing development which may include donating city lots to entice developers. Diverse job creation is ranked third and long range plans for the auditorium, library and other area facilities is the number four priority.
Hancock describes the preliminary city strategic plan as the guide for the direction of the city and said in the meeting agenda that it is his hope the council adopts a plan in the near future.
An ordinance that will vacate a city alley located between lots seven and eight of the Henton's First Addition, on the north side of Ponderosa Drive, will be considered for approval with the three-reading rule suspended during the meeting. An individual interested in purchasing the two lots to build a new home on them has solicited the property owner, Delores M. Henton, to request a lot line adjustment to combine the two lots and for the city alley between them to be vacated.
At the request of city staff Henton has agreed to provide two 10 foot easements to the city, along the southwestern boundary line of lot seven and the eastern boundary of lot eight, for potential future sewer utility needs.
City staff has cited an urgency to complete all transactions as the reason for suspending the three reading rule on the item.
The 2012 armor coating bids were received and councilors will consider a recommendation from city staff to award the project to the lowest bidder, Figgins Construction of Red Cloud, Nebraska. Figgins Construction bid a unit cost of $4.21 for 2012, marking the third consecutive year that armor coating costs have increased for the city.
According to city staff transport loads of armor coat oil are approximately 6,000 gallons each, with 1-2 loads typically used each year. The anticipated increase therefore represents an approximate cost increase to the city of $3500 to $7200 annually.
City armor coat unit cost per gallon, five year recap:
Councilors will consider the third and final reading pertaining to the implementation of an arborist license, to be required by any business engaged in the pruning or removing of 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.
The City of McCook will be required to be listed as an additional insured on the policy, triggering notification to the city if a policy is cancelled. Larry Eisenmenger with MNB Insurance in McCook provided the Gazette with an estimated cost for the liability coverage at $650 annually.
Concerns were raised by one councilor during a May meeting that the license would inconvenience residents assisting with the removal of neighbor's trees for a minimal amount of money, however City Attorney Nate Schneider responded that it would not effect scenarios such as that, "just those in the business" [of trimming or removing trees.]
The measure has received praise from Chief of Police Isaac Brown, who said tree trimming was probably the most common household scam in the area, as well as from Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff. Potthoff said he had received nothing but positive feedback from local tree trimmers pertaining to the new requirements, attributing the majority of the problems the license requirement will address to out-of-town, transient businesses.
A procedural change that more than doubles the dollar amount for public works construction projects that triggers the required involvement of an engineer or architect will be considered for the second of three required readings. Public works construction projects that reach a cost of $40,000 require the involvement of an architect or professional engineer, the change will increase that amount to $100,000.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda:
* Sampson Construction has asked to extend the closure of West C Street, from West Fourth Street to West Fifth Street, through Nov. 23, 2012. The street has been closed for the staging of steel and other materials being used in the construction of the Municipal Facility on West Fifth Street.
* Gene O. Morris has requested to close Norris Avenue from West D to West E Street, as well as West D Street from Norris Avenue to West First Street, on Saturday, July 7, 2012. The closure is requested from 3-10 p.m. so that a hot rod, motorcycle and bicycle show may be coordinated in the area, in conjunction with a classic hot rod movie featured at the Fox Theatre. The movie planned is "The Deuce of Spades."
* Parker Hannifan has requested to occupy city right of way for the construction of two wastewater monitoring manholes and a private forcemain on Karrer Street and South Street. The monitoring holes are being constructed y Parker Hannifin to meet requirements of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
* The second reading of a rezone request of three lots in the Fairacres Addition will be considered for approval and suspension of the three reading rule. The rezone targeted lots four, five and six of block one and will reclassify them from Residential Medium Density Mobile Home District to Business Commercial.
The request was approved by councilors upon its first reading and city staff has indicated that no comments for or against the rezone have since been received, prompting the suggestion to suspend the necessity of a third reading on the item.
* MO Dough LLC has applied for a special liquor license for a class reunion at the Keystone Business Center on July 28, as well as for a reception at the U.S. Army Reserve building on June 23.
* Taste of Texas BBQ, Inc. has applied for a special liquor license for a dance at Kiplinger Arena on July 28.