Pool bond question officially on general election ballot

Council rejects mayor’s council appointment, must be filled at next meeting

It’s official. A not-to-exceed $2.4 million bond question for a new pool and bathhouse will appear on the November general election ballot. The resolution was approved with a unanimous vote at the Grant City Council meeting on Aug. 28 and filed with Perkins County Election Commissioner Rita Long on Aug. 29.   

“What that means is you’re asking the registered voters in the city to give you the authority to issue anywhere from $1 up to $2.4 million,” said Tobin Buchanan of First National Capital Markets. 

Buchanan said based on information he received from the city, there has been $70,000 in sales tax revenue coming in annually on average. He said that would potentially cover $1 million of the pool project on the current bond market.

Once grant money and donations are received and the project is bid, Buchanan said that is the point at which the actual amount needed for the bond is determined. 

Councilman Matt Greenwood asked the process of increasing the sales tax if they decided to do so.

Buchanan said the current sales tax is in place for 14 more years. After 14 years, the debt service would either rely completely on taxes, or the council could choose to have citizens vote to extend the sales tax. That can be done at any time, but it would be too late for this coming election. 

 Greenwood said he would like to put it on the ballot to increase the sales tax, with 100 percent going to the pool. 

“I don’t want to put the burden on the property owners,” he said. 

Buchanan said an increase of at least 1.5 percent sales tax would be needed to come close to covering the project. 

Council member Andrea Brueggeman said she felt $2.4 million was way more than was needed. Greenwood said he would rather have more than enough now and not need it, than have to go back and ask for more. 

A resolution proposing the issuance by the city of its general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $2.4 million to pay the costs of construction and equipping a new swimming pool was unanimously approved. 

Council appointment fails

Exactly four weeks after declaring the council vacancy left by Robert Bounds, Mayor Mike Wyatt appointed Mark Wendell to fill the seat. 

Wyatt said Wendell has served on the council previously and was a good council member, prepared for every meeting, and always thinking outside the box. 

After calling for a vote and then questioning the need for a motion, Pierce made a motion to accept Wyatt’s appointment of Mark Wendell to fill the council vacancy. It failed due to lack of a second. 

According to Nebraska state statute, at the next meeting, Wyatt will submit another qualified registered voter to fill the vacancy. If the subsequent nominee fails to receive a majority of the votes, the mayor shall continue to submit the names of qualified registered voters and the council shall continue to vote upon such nominations until the vacancy is filled. This must be done at the Sept. 11 meeting. 

In lieu of filling the vacancy by appointment, the mayor and council may call a special city election to fill such vacancy.

Tax asking remains the same

City Auditor/Accountant Terry Galloway discussed the 2018-19 city budget, which he said looks good for taxpayers.

This year’s valuation is just short of $60 million, an increase of $2.7 million, or 4.78 percent, from last year. 

The property tax asking has remained right around $235,000 for the third consecutive year.

“If the valuation goes up and the property tax asking stays the same, your levy goes down. That’s the equation,” said Galloway.

He noted the levy, which is under 40 cents, is the lowest it’s been in a long time. 

Greenwood requested that the pool project funds be separated out of the park and recreation budget to avoid the pool funds being used for anything else. He said he felt this happened with the water meter project. 

The budget is scheduled to be approved at the next meeting. 

Garbage truck remains

The old garbage truck again failed to be declared surplus. Greenwood said he felt the snow plow on the old truck is needed as the new truck does not have one. Currently, a tractor and skid loader are used to remove snow. City Superintended Dana Harris said the snow plow on the old garbage truck hasn’t been used in many years. 

Mayor Mike Wyatt said he would rather not keep the truck, as it costs money to insure and they will have to keep it in working order. 

Greenwood said they need to have the snow-removing capabilities, even if they haven’t used it. Councilman Darrell Pierce asked if they needed to save something they might use every five or 10 years. 

Pierce made a motion to declare the garbage truck surplus, but it failed for lack of a second. 

Other business

• City Clerk/Treasurer Jessie Faber said the sales tax revenue was unusually high in July at $30,419. The highest it’s ever been in a month is around $20,000. 

• Keno funds of $521.47 were approved for Sam McArtor’s Eagle Scout project completed at Hastings Memorial Library. 

• A special liquor license was approved for Middle of Nowhere Bar and Grill to service alcohol at the Perkins County Fairgrounds for a wedding on Sept. 29.

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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