Clay sworn in; Schall new president

One of the first orders of business at the Sept. 24 Broken Bow City Council meeting was the swearing in of new council member, Kelly Clay. Clay was appointed by Mayor Cecil Burt to fulfill a term on the council vacated by Scott Spanel, serving the East Ward. Spanel was serving as council president at the time he resigned, and Councilman Chad Schall was appointed to temporarily act as president until a full council was again established. At the Monday meeting, Schall was elected by the council to continue to serve as president. Two city ordinances were approved by the council, as recommended by the Board of Public Works. One of those ordinances establishes a 3 percent increase in water rates in the city, while the other establishes a 12 percent increase in sewer use fees. Water Superintendent Darren Martin explained to the council that the increase in water use fees is due to the fact that the city’s costs continually increase. By assessing small increases like this one each year, Martin says it prevents the city from facing a large increase all at once at some point in the future. He says it is just a way of keeping ahead of the costs and eliminating a much larger burden to the city and the customers. The sewer rate increase, Martin says, is due entirely to the new wastewater treatment plant. Next year will be the first year the city has had to pay full payments on the plant. Until now only the interest was required to be paid. The ordinance will increase city residents sewer use fee from $17 per month to $19 per month, plus $2.30/1,000 gallons, and rural customers from $18.70 to $20.90 per month plus $2.55/1,000 gallons based on winter average water usage. The council waived the three readings of each ordinance, and both rate increases will become effective with the October meter readings. Also during the Monday meeting, the council heard from Gary Van Meter with Central Nebraska Economic Develop-ment District. The CNEDD received a letter from Mayor Burt on behalf of the city, requesting a refund for membership dues the city had paid the organization last year. The mayor indicated that letter was based on the CNEDD failing to live up to their end of the agreement. Van Meter told the council this error occurred prior to him coming on board with the organization, and it is his desire to make things right with the City of Broken Bow. However, he said his board would apply last year’s dues to this year rather than issue a refund to the city. The council elected to table further discussion on this matter to the next meeting, allowing them to take a closer look at the issue. In other action, the council elected to remain a member of the Lexington Area Solid Waste executive board. Mayor Burt explained that membership on the board does not cost the city anything, and it actually benefits the city by giving the community a vote for such things as setting fees. He says membership on the board also allows the city to have a say in keeping the facility a co-op rather than allowing it to be taken over by a large corporation. This, in turn, keeps rates lower. The council also approved the bid for the purchase of the first of two tractors approved for purchase at the Aug. 27 meeting.