Budget, endownment, sidewalk cafe ordinance on agenda

Friday, July 31, 2020

McCOOK, Neb. — There may be only two, instead of the usual three, readings this year of the city’s 2020-21 budget and to make up for that, a discussion session on the budget is slated Monday night at the regular city council meeting, 5:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers at the McCook Municipal Building.

The council will also be asked to approve a new ordinance that allows sidewalk cafes to serve alcohol on city streets and officially approve a $500,000 endowment to create a new technology center at the city library.

The city’s budget for next year is not yet completed, as city staff is still in the process of receiving numbers regarding revenue receipts from COVID-19, according to the city staff report for Monday’s meeting. The data release has been slow and these numbers are integral to the budget process to ensure accuracy, according to the city staff report.

In addition, there is a time crunch: the deadline for budgets to be submitted to the state is Sept. 20; the second council meeting in September is Sept. 21, a day after the deadline.

Because all the numbers needed for the budget haven’t been received, city staff has proposed to the city council that two readings be conducted for the budget, instead of the usual three. At the budget discussion session Monday night, city staff will provide up-to-date information regarding the status of the budget.

The council will also be asked to approve the concept of the Birdella Nelson Technology Center, located at the McCook Public Library, that includes accepting an endowment to be administered by the Nebraska Community Foundation, as well as authorizing the name of the center to be known as the Birdella Nelson Technology Center.

At the July 20 city council meeting, former U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, via a teleconference call and Andy Long, McCook Economic Development Corp. director, made a presentation on the creation of the endowment to fund a technology center at the McCook City Library. The $500,000 endowment would be used to fund cutting edge technology at the library. Council action is requested to officially accept the endowment, that will be administered through the Nebraska Community Foundation and directed by local entities. The council also needs to approve naming the technology center the Birdella Nelson Technology Center. The name of the library would continue to be the McCook Public Library.

In other action, the council will be asked to approve on its first reading a new city ordinance that allows sidewalk cafes to serve alcohol on city streets.

The council and city staff first discussed the proposal at the July 6 council meeting, with Matt Sehnert, owner of the Bieroc Cafe/Sehnert’s Bakery, making a presentation in favor of allowing alcohol to be served in sidewalk cafes. The council seemed to agree and asked city staff to draft an ordinance to address it.

The ordinance up for approval Monday night is modeled after ones in Lincoln and Hastings Neb., but includes a few differences based on recent conversations with Matt and Shelly Sehnert. These differences include the licensee the ability to apply for an exception to extend operating hours from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. for specific purposes, such as a wedding rehearsal dinner; a gate or chain access to allow ingress and egress for specific purposes such as a fire exit, handicap accessibility or maintenance; entertainment within a sidewalk, live and non-live, with city council approval; and changing the height of the fencing to 42 inches in order to meet OSHA standards and allowing corner posts to exceed 42 inches for decorative rope lights.

Monday night’s meeting will begin with a public hearing for a report from the Economic Development Plan Citizen’s Advisory Review Committee meeting on July 27, 2020.

Following that, the council will be asked to approve the consent agenda, where all items can be approved in one motion unless an item is pulled for a separate discussion and vote.

Items on the consent agenda include:

- Receive and file the minutes of the March 11, 2020 Library Advisory Board and the June 2, 2020 Special Joint meeting of the McCook Public Library Foundation and the Library Advisory Board meeting.

-Approve four application submitted by Great Plains Communications to occupy city streets to install fiber optic network, at the following locations: on West “A” Street between West 9th and West 11th Streets, including service to 900 West “B” Street;

-East “F” Street from East 12th Street to the alley between Gemini Court and East 12th Street to supply fiber optic service to 506 East 12th Street;

-the alley north of West “O” Street to install fiber optic cable to 1505 North Highway 83.

-West “E” Street and the alley between West Third and West Fourth Streets to connect existing cables.

-Approve the application for a special designated liquor license submitted by Loop Brewing Company, for a wedding reception at the Red Willow County Fair Grounds Community Building on Sept. 12, 2020, from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight, that shall be subject to comply with any Directed Health Measures in effect at the time of the event.

An executive session may be held upon a majority vote of the council for the protection of public interest for a strategy session with respect to collective bargaining - McCook Professional Firefighters Association Local 2100.

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