Council votes no to EPS contract

The City of Broken Bow will not be renewing its contract with Energy Pioneer Solutions. The council members did not agree with Council President Chad Schall, who strongly voiced his support of renewing the contract, and the motion made by Schall to do so died for lack of a second. Speaking on behalf of the community’s Green Coalition, David J. Birnie told the council that committee would not be bringing another proposal to the council regarding home energy options. Birnie said the committee had done a great deal of research prior to aligning themselves with EPS, and became convinced that was the best option for the citizens of Broken Bow. Councilman Kelly Clay said he did do some research on other companies and found what he believes to be some good options for citizens to have energy upgrades done to their homes. However, Joan Birnie reminded the council that the particular programs Clay referred to are income based and available funds are determined by federal tax dollars. Councilman Cody Schmick says while he understands that everyone wants to be more diligent about energy efficiency, “my hang-up is the fact that the city has to be in partnership with them to make it work.” Clay expressed those same concerns. Dave Birnie stated that, in his opinion, the real reason this discussion is even being held in the first place is because the city did not meet their end of the obligation with EPS. He reminded the council that the goal of EPS is to save the customers energy and money. “You are offering a value-added service to your customers,” said Birnie. That sentiment was echoed by Schall, who told his fellow councilmen more than once that he thought it was in the best interest of the municipal utilities customers to renew this contract. Cheryl Taylor and Carol Fritzler of Custer Public Power District were also present at the meeting. Taylor told the council that NPPD is currently looking into the possibility of contracting with EPS for energy efficiency services, and noted that CPPD does currently offer free home energy audits to their customers. This is a topic very near and dear to CPPD, and Fritzler is currently working with Nebraska Energy Assistance Network on an energy symposium to be held in May. Despite arguments in favor of the contract from the Green Coalition and Council President Schall, it was not enough to convince the remaining three council members. The quality of life of the citizens of Broken Bow was also the topic of discussion by Teddie Trotter, who addressed the council with concerns ranging from dust and odor, to city codes and county zoning. Trotter presented a number of documents containing statistical information he had found to support his complaints, and left the information with City Attorney Jason White. Trotter requested Mayor Cecil Burt arrange for a town-hall meeting in which citizens can openly discuss these issues. The mayor said he would take the matter under advisement. The city street department presented the council with a report outlining their one and six year street improvement plan. Bud Clark addressed the council regarding a major project the street department will undertake this summer in the southeast corner of the city. Each year funds are set aside by the Broken Bow Housing Authority, and they have agreed to allow the city to use these funds to hard surface Pawnee Lane, Buffalo Run Road and Cherokee Lane. The total cost of this project is estimated at $150,000. In a separate project, Clark says the street department also plans street improvements on South K Street, which is currently a gravel road - as are the streets in the other project. The South K Street improvements will be paid for with city funds. In other business, Broken Bow Police Chief Steve Scott presented an update of police department activities for 2012. Scott reported that his department received 2,496 calls to service during the year, and issued 455 charges by citation. Scott also pointed out that since acquiring the drug dog, the department has seen an increase each year in the number of arrests for controlled substances and drug paraphanalia, with a total of 70 arrests for such charges in 2012. Scott also discussed money that was confiscated during an arrest in February 2012, when two men in route from Chicago to California had to make an emergency landing at the Broken Bow airport. Because of adverse weather conditions the men were forced to stay overnight in Broken Bow, and after becoming involved in a hit and run accident BBPD officers obtained permission to search their hotel room and airplane. The officers recovered a total of just over $101,000 - and neither of the men claimed the money. The cash was turned over to a federal agency, and after no one claimed it within a specific period of time, it was relinquished. The Broken Bow department received 80 percent of that money to be used for law enforcement. Scott says he plans to use the funds to help update patrol cars and equipment. The council also received an annual report on the Broken Bow City Library from Library Director Joan Birnie. The report outlines the activities and services offered by the library during the past year, as well as attendance figures. We will take an in-depth look at that report next week. In one final action item, the council approved a bid from Bow Glass for installation of a new front door on the Municipal Building to meet ADA requirements. The current double door will be replaced with a single 42-inch door which can be pushed open with a button, similar to the front entrance door at the hospital. The bid was $7,189, which includes installation and all electrical work.