By Lauren Brant
Prior to the February monthly meeting of the Hay Springs City Council, Barney Whatley with Nebraska Rural Water Association met with the council at 6 p.m. to discuss city personnel policies.
The regular monthly meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13. Council member Keith Kearns was absent. The council moved to approve the January 9 regular meeting minutes and the January 22 special meeting minutes as presented. The February 13 meeting agenda was approved as presented.
Jim Gardner of Gardner, Loutzenhiser, and Ryan P.C. presented the city’s audit for the 2017 year. There was a discussion about the water fund operation and repair costs for the year. The fund lost $73,000 in net position with a cash reserve decrease of $65,000. Gardner suggested that the council look at water rates. The sewer cash flow was about break even and the RV Park generated about $3,300 in cash flows. The city has $225,000 in cash reserves in the General Fund and the incoming revenue met or exceeded the projections. A concern he shared with the council was the cap on vacation accrual in the personnel policies. Some employees are over that limit, so the council needs to revisit it and make adjustments as needed. The report will be uploaded to the state auditor’s website in the next few weeks.
The council approved Sherrie Elwood’s request for a special designated license for the Chamber Cribbage Tournament and St. Patrick’s Day party on March 17, 2018.
Joan Yekel came before the council to ask them to sign the Problem Gambling Awareness Proclamation since March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The council moved to allow Mayor Richard McKay to sign the proclamation.
The council moved to approve the annual payment of $303.66 per the agreement for Sheridan County Public Transportation.
Azure Summers presented the council with a design for a new city logo and discussed the importance of brand identity. The new logo portrays the plains, agriculture, historical value, and motion of the city. After some discussion about file formats and color options, the council moved to approve the purchase of the base package at $350 along with 500 letterhead and envelopes for a total of $530.21. Council member Marcella Hale abstained. Members of the council liked the current logo and allowed Clerk Kayley Taylor to purchase more as needed since it would fall under office supplies.
Whatley gave a presentation on a rate study for sewer and water costs. At the city’s current water rate, they are losing over $47,000 each year. He proposed a base rate of $22 and 0.35 cents per 100 gallons for residential and apartment water rates. That would give the city some revenue on top of the total expenses of $186,425.70. Hale voiced a concern that increasing water rates will impact people’s maintenance of lawns. Whatley informed the council the total revenues required for sewer totals $102,175.52. The proposed rate was $21.80. Whatley encouraged the city to complete a rate study every 3 years to gradually adjust rates as necessary. The council decided to review the information and discuss it at the March meeting.
There were no public comments. The council members also did not have any discussion on the street/water/clerk, nursing home, and SWANN reports.
Varvel noticed a typo in the treasurer’s report, which has been corrected.
For the Lister-Sage report, Varvel informed the council they received the $15,000 Greater Good grant, which will go toward updating the landscape around the building.
For the mayor’s report, McKay noted that the city is responsible for snow removal on the city streets, not driveways. There was no further discussion.
Varvel contacted Daniel Bennett from Panhandle Area Development District about the disbursement of a $22,000 CDBG block grant next month for the city’s project.
The water loss report was 40 percent for two months, which was up from 32 percent in December. Once the weather improves. Aaron Taylor said he will start looking for leaks. Taylor said he is replacing meters gradually to help with water loss. The council asked Taylor to include the water loss from the previous year as a comparison.
The agenda item for developing salary schedule was continued for the next meeting.
During the January meeting, the council reviewed MC Shaft’s and Baker’s statements of qualifications for the CDBG project. They motioned for MC Shaft to act as the engineer on the project.
The claims and January treasurer’s report were approved as presented.
After some discussion about when the school and city planned a community clean-up day in previous years and when the deadline was for the Great American Clean-up and Keep Nebraska Beautiful, the council set the city’s clean-up day for May 4.
Taylor informed the council of two bad hydrants in the RV Park. There were 13,000 gallons of water used last year. He suggested making some of the hydrants seasonal to reduce the occurrence of hydrants freezing.
Taylor also informed the council that the front loader bucket is getting worn. The council moved to approve the purchase of a front loader bucket for the backhoe at $1,000. He also discussed a walker mower engine that he and George Christensen tried to fix. They discussed options for replacing the crankshaft or buying a new engine for the mower. He will call around for prices and report back to the council.
Animal control officer Austin Reed contacted the mayor to see if the city would purchase kennels. City attorney James McCave said their contract agreement states that Reed needs to submit a claim to the city and explain why he needs it. Reed and McKay also toured the park impound shed to look at repairs. The city has a contract with Rushville for an impound facility, so the council erred on the side of caution to avoid using the shed as a housing facility.
The council motioned to enter executive session to discuss legal matters at 8:28 p.m.