City looking at several projects
By Tim Linscott, Managing Editor
by tim linscott
With the budget year a few months off, it never hurts to begin discussing the future, according to Grant city officials.
Grant City Council meeting city administrator Dana Harris recently presented an updated list of potential projects municipal leaders could prioritize for the coming budget year, which starts Oct. 1.
One of the first ideas Harris presented the council was a budget item of $12,000 for nuisance abatement through West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD). After talking with WCNDD officials, Harris explained that an option the city could do for abatement now that all four quadrants of the city have been examined is an ‘on-call’ method. This would give one designated person the authority to report a nuisance and WNCDD officials would then investigate the situation rather than looking at an entire portion of town.
Already in the budget for next year is the increase in MEAN (Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska) energy costs and the costs associated with the creation of the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA).
An issue that comes up every budget year in Grant is the municipal pool.
“What are we going to do with the pool?” Harris asked.
Grant Mayor Mike Wyatt feels the financial picture of the pool needs to be seen before decisions are made definite.
“Before we build a new pool or bathhouse, we need the money first,” Wyatt said. “We need to look at the financial picture first and know where we stand before making a decision.”
In regard to the water meter/Sherman Avenue water main project, Tom Werblow of TC Engineering feels something could be done this year. The city could get an answer on potential grant money within the next 60 days, which conceivably could have the project finished in this budget year. Werblow told Harris that the total cost of meters and the Sherman Avenue main project could be $2.2 million.
The water tower will be drained this budget year as it is scheduled for every two years for the next 10 years.
Possibly putting in a generator for the well lift station was discussed as a project for this upcoming budget year. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant funds may be available for that project, however, Wyatt felt this may be too important to wait to see if grant money can be procured.
“We need to follow up and get a generator for the wells, we can’t wait for FEMA money,” Wyatt said.
Gary Beckler, Grant water operator, suggested the city look for a generator for the lift station now in this year’s upcoming budget and budget installation fees in next year’s budget.
When it came to doing curb and gutter projects or refurbishing specific intersections, Harris pushed for curb and gutter project taking a priority.
City officials mentioned a water meter district or street district are also options as far as tackling issues locally.
A retaining wall will be put up by the electrical sub-station at a cost of $140,000, coming out of the electrical fund and Harris noted that if sales tax revenue stays the same, around $70,000 a year can go toward new projects and maintenance.
Before any major decisions are made, Wyatt would like to hear from Terry Calloway, the CPA for the city, to see forecasts of the financial standing of Grant.
“I want to see our cash position. If we are spending $2.2 million on a project and starting a CRA, I need numbers to look at,” Wyatt said. “If we do all these projects, what impact will it have on our financial picture?”
Wyatt suggested looking at all project ‘at face value’ with no grants or loans involved.
Pool to be revamped
Grant city officials and Grant Mayor Mike Wyatt have a plan for the municipal pool.
Wyatt explained at the July 22 city council meeting that funds for the pool have been building and a plan lined up by the council to repair the bath house at the pool.
In 2012 the council approved a one percent sales tax with the funds going to streets, water, roads and park and recreation projects and maintenance.
“Now that we have had the sales tax for two years we can forecast revenue,” Grant Mayor Mike Wyatt said.
Wyatt explained that the last he knew, the tub of the pool was secure and the bath house was the main priority.
“The bath house needs to be updated and things are still on track,” Wyatt said, expecting the project to run around $500,000.
Plans are to renovate the bath house and add some landscaping around the pool area.
“We’ll modernize the pool but use the tub as it exists today,” Wyatt said. “After 55 years of use, it is time for a facelift.”