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City: Rented trash trailers still necessary

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

(Photo)
Top, the new Municipal Facility constructed on West C Street opens for business today, housing city administration, police and fire departments. Middle, from left, a sally port on the east side of the new building offers secure entry into the police department as expanded and additional vehicle bay space for the fire department can been seen on the north end of the facility. Bottom left, the McCook Public Safety Center on West B Street prior to the 1985 renovation that expanded fire department space to include several vehicle bays. Bottom right, the public safety center in January 2013, its final day to house city fire and police operations. The Red Willow County Sheriff's office will continue jail operations out of the facility.
(McCook Daily Gazette)
(Photo)
City of McCook department heads tour the McCook City Council through the new council chambers of the Municipal Facility on West C Street, Monday evening. From left, Cathy McDowell, City Clerk Lea Ann Doak, Councilor Bruce McDowell, Chief of Police Isaac Brown, Utility Director Jesse Dutcher, Fire Chief Marc Harpham, Mayor Dennis Berry and Councilor Mike Gonzales. Monday's meeting may have been the last city council meeting hosted at Memorial Auditorium. City offices opened for business this morning at the new Municipal Facility.
(Bruce Baker/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Prior to the McCook City Council forwarding a claim for damages from the city's contracted trash hauler on to their insurance carrier, Monday evening, city staff explained that a $4,000 monthly rental expense of unused trash hauling trailers by the city was still deemed necessary. Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff explained that although the trailers were not being utilized they were a necessary "insurance policy" that city staff was not taking lightly.

"We discuss it on a monthly basis," said Potthoff, adding that staff had determined it was not yet the time to send the trailers back and would even support a council decision to purchase trailers for the city.

The topic was brought up by a citizen attending Monday's regularly scheduled meeting at Memorial Auditorium. The citizen, John E. Hanson of McCook, asked the council what the status of the trailers was, which were rented in September and combined with a $69,800 emergency purchase of two 2006 Freightliner semi trucks.

The truck purchase and trailer rentals were described at the time as being necessary to ensure city trash service would not stop. The purchase was confirmed by councilors during an October meeting which also included councilors denying a rate increase to the contracted trash hauler, Fritz Trucking.

Potthoff reiterated Monday evening that the trash hauling trailers were a specialized item that were in rare supply, which contributed to city staff's reluctance to send them back. He also said the trailers were likely going to be utilized to pickup a load of mulch for the city, which would save $2-$3,000.

City Clerk Lea Ann Doak responded to questions from Hanson that the monthly rental expense of the trailers was coming out of the city's budgeted trash hauling expense and not depleting any reserve accounts.

Councilors subsequently received and filed the claim for damages from Fritz Trucking without comment. The claim alleged city staff caused a significant amount of damage to one of the company's trailers while it was being loaded the afternoon of Dec. 13, 2012.

An estimate for the dollar amount of the repairs was not available from the city or as part of the claim. City Manager Jeff Hancock told the Gazette prior to the meeting that the city's insurance carrier would handle everything pertaining to the claim.

Steve Fritz, president of Fritz Trucking, said in the claim that the damage was "too much damage to ignore."

Councilors typically forward claims for damages on to their insurance carrier without comment, those claims typically have a dollar amount requested also.

An employee of Fritz trucking spoke during the Citizen's Forum portion of Monday's meeting and informed councilors the company had since had a second trailer damaged while being loaded by city staff. He inquired as to whether that claim for damages could be included with the first claim or needed to be filed separately. Councilors informed him it would need to be filed separately.

City Manager Jeff Hancock praised city staff for their response to a water line break on West Fifth Street Friday afternoon.

"They were miserable, miserable conditions and our guys performed heroically," said Utility Director Jesse Dutcher. City staff worked through freezing temperatures to repair the water main, which left more than a dozen residents without water.

The water leak occurred at approximately 1 p.m. Friday afternoon and required roughly 12 hours of repair work, keeping diligent city staff busy until 1 a.m. Saturday morning.

Councilors adjourned the meeting at Memorial Auditorium and received a guided tour by city staff of the new Municipal Facility on West C Street. The new city building was open for its first day of business today.

Just prior to walking over to the building Doak informed councilors that staff was aware of a problem with accessibility of the new drop box at the Municipal Facility. Doak said it was difficult to use and staff would be looking into solutions in the near future.

Also during Monday's meeting the maintenance agreement between the Nebraska Department of Roads and the city was approved for renewal. The agreement outlines the maintenance responsibilities of U.S. Highway 6 and 34 and U.S. Highway 83.

Per the agreement the state will pay the city $1,575 per lane mile it is responsible for within city limits, which totals 11.60 miles. The total amount due the city will be $18,270.

A certificate of compliance pertaining to the 2012 maintenance agreement was also approved. That document certifies that all maintenance has been accomplished per terms of the agreement.


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