City Council Overrides Mayor Veto Of Mobile Food Ordinance 3-1; Tensions Rise On Board Appointment

BROKEN BOW—  It has been over four years since the Broken Bow Mayor has vetoed a Broken Bow City Council decision and it has been even longer since the council has had to override a veto. The clock will now restart as the City Council overrode the veto of Mayor Berghorst concerning mobile food vendors on Tuesday, July 9.

Mobile food vendors have been the topic of discussion the past couple of months as proponents for both sides have voiced their opinions on the ordinance. Some have argued that the ordinance was too restrictive and is making it difficult for mobile vendors to set up in Broken Bow. Others have said that mobile vendors hurt the business of permanent food establishments by not paying property taxes and taking away customers.

Councilman Jacob Holcomb has been one of the main council members working on this ordinance since the beginning of April. According to Holcomb, he and many other have spent a large amount of time finding the middle ground of where each party would be satisfied with the end result.

Holcomb also questioned the reason why there was a necessity for the mobile food  vendors to be a certain distance from permanent food establishments when there has never been an issue before. He also noted that he wanted to make sure that the ordinance would not make the jobs of the Broken Bow Police Officers and the Chief of Police, Steve Scott, any harder than it already is.

“A big goal of mine is not making Steve’s job harder than it needs to be. Making something that is easily to enforce,” said Holcomb. “On top of that, competition is a good thing that the fundamental thing of Capitalism, in my opinion. Competition makes all of us better and that is how I stand.”

Councilman Larry Miller, voiced concerns that with the removal of the 150 foot parking restriction it would open the door for vendors to essentially park on the curb directly in front of a restaurant. Councilman Chris Myers also discussed the possibility of reducing the limit to 75 feet, but the concern circled back to requiring officers to measure the distance of a food truck when there could be other issues to be dealt with.

Mayor Jon Berghorst voiced his concern to the council that he believed the distance restriction was necessary and that if the food truck wanted to park within the restriction they could still receive permission from the permanent establishment.

“I believe that we need something in there that states for special events down at the square they can be there but any other time I feel that they should find somewhere else,” said Berghorst. “For the simple fact of it is a safety hazard pulling off of Highway 2, backing in and out, always right off the main highway.” Berghorst continued, “That and we are giving free power for $125 per year.”

Following discussion, Holcomb made the motion to override the veto of the mayor with Council President Rod Sonnichsen making the second on the motion. Myers voted yes, Sonnichsen voted yes, Holcomb voted yes, and Miller, who voted yes at the previous meeting, switched his vote to no. With three of the four council members voting yes, the override passed and Ordinance 1203-Mobile Food Vendors was approved.

The second issue of the evening came when Douglas Daake was scheduled to be appointed to the Park Board with the approval of the city council. Sonnichsen informed the council and public that on April 9 the city council approved on a 4-0 vote to send the application of Daake back to the Park Board for new recommendations.

Sonnichsen also said that he “knows for a fact” that the Park Board did not recommend Daake. It was also brought up by a member of the public that the Park Board had actually recommended Cecil Burt for the position.

Sonnichsen pointed out that the Council had asked the Park Board to make a recommendation but, as they have not had a quorum in quite some time, have not been able to vote or discuss their recommendation.

“I feel that volunteer committees need to be compatible within to accomplish everything they do,” said Sonnichsen. “I will always request the majority recommendation from these volunteer citizens within their committees.”

Mayor Berghorst told the council that while in the past the board makes the recommendation and passes their recommendation along through the mayor, that is not the proper procedure.

“That is not the proper procedure. I make the appointments you guys approve them. We’re not going through the boards. Whether you guys feel like you need to approve it or not is up to you,” said Berghorst.

City Attorney Jason White confirmed that according to state statute, the mayor makes the recommendation and the city council can either approve or not approve the recommendation. The council members pointed out that while the statute may say the mayor appoints to each board, it is customarily each volunteer board’s recommendation as they have to work with the newly appointed board member.

The council did talk at length that they would rather have the recommendation of each appointment brought to the mayor from each voluntary board. Councilman Miller also noted that if you ignore the recommendation of the board on who they would like appointed, what is the point of having the board?

“I’m telling you that is not the way I am going to do it,” said Berghorst.

Sonnichsen told Berghorst that while the Mayor has the right to recommend who he would like to each board, he and some of the other council members would need the recommendation of each volunteer board before approving any appointments.

The Park Board appointment was eventually postponed until the first City Council meeting in October.

The final item on the agenda was the unanimous approval of $1,385.50 to be paid to JEO Consulting Group Inc. for work completed on the Broken Bow Flood Risk Reduction through June 21, 2019.

The Board of Public Works will have their regular meeting on Monday, July 22 at 12:30 PM at the Municipal Building.

The next Broken Bow City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 23 at 6 PM at the Broken Bow Public Library.