Letter to the Editor


Friday, March 10, 2006

Dear Editor,

I was very shocked and disappointed when I heard the city council had hired back Mr. Bingham. Before Mr. Bingham came to McCook. I spent a lot of time and money prior to him becoming city manager on economic development and things I felt would better McCook. I had seen McCook spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for water procurement over the years.

Being in the irrigation business for many years I knew of an area north of McCook that had not been developed for irrigation because the land owners didn't want irrigation in their area. In fact one of the large estates would only let the water be used for the benefit of people. I told Mr. Bingham about the water project that Mr. Trail referenced to in Wednesday's paper right after he came to McCook. At that time the contracts with the farmers were drafted and agreed upon by the farmers, the surrounding irrigation well owners were going to be protected, and they all agreed to go with it. The cost was $1,000 per 160 acres for an option to explore and decide if it would be a good site which included 2,080 acres. There were restrictions for wellhead protection. The easement cost would have been $13,000. I never received a dime for my time or trips in negotiating this. Marty Conroy, W Design, and the City Council were all in on this project at that time, although it was being kept quiet until everything was worked out before going public.

Mr. Bingham wouldn't go forward with it but had to have his studies and hire advisers. The consultant that McCook hired put in a bogus test in the middle of the area we had dealt for. They then did all their test and studies elsewhere. It was already known there was no water where they were testing but it had an overall cost to the water users of somewhere around two to three hundred thousand dollars for studies and services. Then a few years down the road McCook went back to the same site and spent half again as much for easements on part of that land and land farther away because of bad negations with the close-in land owners. It went sour because instead of including all of the land owners in one block, they picked and chose individual parcels to save a few dollars and they saved a few more by not giving the surrounding owners protection. One of the councilmen fought the north site from the start. In 2002 he required that all the easements, land purchases, be under a million dollars. When it did come in under a million and the total project when completed was estimated to be less than 10 million, he still fought it. If it could have been done then, the cost of city water would be over a million and a half less now per year.

The common sense group also fought it because they wanted it to be south of McCook. Remember these council people at the next election.

My dealings with Mr. Bingham is he is Mister NO. Every thing seems to be NO.

It would be nice to sit down with the people in authority and find out what is expected and required to do something in McCook instead of having to spend money for plans, city fees and agreements that they are going to change. You could probably come to some mutual agreement or else not do the project if the restrictions or cost is too great, instead you have to spend a lot of money to have plans and agreements drawn up by professionals, pay the city's fees and present it to them. Then they say "no" and you go back and spend more money to try and meet what you think they want.

In the meantime they change or interpret the ordinances differently, increase the fees and you can try again if you want. I have seen this with almost every project that comes along in McCook since Mr. Bingham came to McCook.

One thing that bothered me is when I was trying to start a subdivision and pay for all the cost incurred including the street signs, Mr. Bingham on three different occasions told either the council or planning commission that the houses built on the subdivision would not pay enough taxes to pay for their police and fire protection.

Besides paying for everything in connection with my subdivision, he was requiring me to purchase a small strip of land adjoining my land and pay for a street from Q street to the Hinton addition at a cost of approximately. $175,000. This attitude has sure stopped the home building in McCook, which in his view, is probably saving McCook money.

One thing Mr. Bingham has done for McCook residents, is you can now park on main street most any time of the day in front of where you want to go. You couldn't do that before he came here.

On another subject, in the way it reads in the paper it doesn't sound like it was an agenda item to hire Mr. Bingham or an agenda item to give him a raise nor does it sound like it was voted on in an open meeting. This sounds like it is a violation of the open meeting law and another air base. It's hard to believe this could happen with a lawyer on the council in the meeting, but the way the paper reads it did. I'm not a resident of McCook, but this is worth looking into.

Claude L Cappel


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