McCOOK, Nebraska -- City staff answered questions from the McCook City Council, Monday evening, surrounding the likely emergency purchase of a generator for the new Municipal Facility and the situation which brought it about. Several councilors expressed concern about being surprised by the purchase and a seeming lack of planning on the part of city staff. However, officials explained the scenario was just as much of a surprise to them and was not brought about by lack of planning on their part.
The generator being used at the Public Safety Center is not large enough to handle the electrical load of the entire new Municipal Facility and has been slated to be relocated and dedicated just to the fire department at the new building. City staff had then planned to use the generator at Memorial Auditorium to cover emergency dispatching needs at the new facility.
"Up until a couple of weeks ago we were being told that would work," explained Utility Director Jesse Dutcher. Dutcher and City Manager Jeff Hancock explained that use of the Memorial Auditorium generator had gone all the way through the design process and had even received tentative approval from the state electrical inspector, who then came back and said he had to check on the plan before ultimately saying it would not work, just two weeks ago.
The problem stems from the generator's rating as a portable generator and emergency dispatching regulations, which state the system must be supported by a permanent backup system.
City Attorney Nate Schneider said a couple of options were available on how to complete the purchase and indicated that timing was a serious concern. Schneider said the municipal facility was four weeks from completion and one of the two generator bids received required 10 weeks for delivery, the second bid, however, only required two weeks.
Schneider said there was no action councilors needed to take during Monday's City Council meeting and explained that city staff wanted to be as transparent with the purchase as possible and let councilors know that if an emergency purchase was declared, they would be asked to confirm it at a later date.
The generator purchase is estimated to be just over $29,000, with an approximate $5,000 in setup fees.
The purchase will be funded by available sales tax dollars and City Clerk Lea Ann Doak said that any leftover contingency funds from the Municipal Facility construction project would be used to replenish a portion of the sales tax dollars used.
Doak also informed councilors of a paint issue at the Municipal Facility. Doak said a gloss paint had been used in areas that should have been a flat paint and because the error was on the part of the contractor, they would be repainting those areas at no additional cost to the city. Doak said the repainting also would correct problems with vent colors that were not matching and had been brought to her attention.
City staff have until Dec. 3 to compile its final punch list of items at the new facility and are scheduled to be moved in by Dec. 18. Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff said that city staff would be responsible for the final grading of landscape at the facility, as well as removal of excess dirt. Potthoff said that the grading and placement of sod would likely be completed before the end of the year, but that the majority of landscaping work would be completed next spring.
Also during the meeting Lloyd Benjamin, representing the Fox Theatre, thanked councilors and city staff for their role in facilitating the CDBG grant that assisted in much of the building's recent renovations. Benjamin said there were still a few things left to do, but the reality was, the Fox Theatre had a new building and the community had a facility that could host first class performances.
Councilors subsequently approved a change order which increased the "guaranteed maximum price" of the Fox Theatre renovation project by $11,744 and extended the contract time for substantial completion by 30 days. The new total project cost will be $516,744, with a substantial completion date of Dec. 1, 2012.
The project received a $254,300 CDBG grant with the required match and additional funding provided by the Alliance for the Encouragement of Visual and Performing Arts. No city funds were committed for the project.
Councilors entered executive session for the annual evaluation of the job performance of City Manager Jeff Hancock and subsequently approved a new employment agreement with him. Hancock was granted a 2.5 percent "cost of living" increase and an additional 2.5 percent was committed to be paid into his retirement.
The changes, effective Oct. 1, 2012, bring the city manager's annual salary to $87,125 before benefits. Hancock's salary and compensation changes were approved with the three-reading rule suspended.
Other items on the consent and regular agenda:
* The ordinance authorizing the McCook City Council to issue a temporary ban on discharging fireworks within city limits was approved on its third and final reading. The ordinance does not prohibit local sales of fireworks or the annual Fourth of July fireworks display, put on at Red Willow County Fairgrounds.
* An ordinance implementing the reduction to the city occupation tax on telephone land lines, previously approved by councilors as part of the 2012-13 city budget, was approved on its second of three required readings. The ordinance reduces the tax from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
* BSB Construction was awarded the bid for the East Ninth and G Street drainage project in the amount of $49,290. BSB was the only bidder on the project, which will have a total cost of $57,127, including engineering work.
* Paulsen, Inc., was awarded the bid for the East H Street paving project, from Norris Avenue to Airport Road, in the amount of $1,648,734. The project is estimated to have a total project cost of $1,863,583, once construction engineering costs have been negotiated. According to the meeting agenda, eighty percent of the project will be funded by federal funds and twenty percent will be funded with sales tax.
* Schmicks Market was granted special liquor licenses for a receptions at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds Community Building on Dec. 1, 2012 and at the Keystone Business Center on Dec. 8, 2012.