City Council Raises Fireworks Application Fee

BROKEN BOW–Another conference-call style meeting was held by the Broken Bow City Council on Tuesday evening. The consent agenda was approved and it was stated by Mayor Rod Sonnichsen that another discussion surrounding the swimming pool has been postponed to May 26.

Since October 2018 the house located at 631 South 9th Avenue has been deemed unsafe by the Broken Bow Police Department and a decision was needed by the City Council as to demolish the property or not. In October of 2019, property owner Justin Russel was granted a six-month extension period before demolition in order for a remodel to take place.

Sonnichsen said this is the fourth time the property has come before the council and any prolonged actions on the city’s behalf could lead to possible litigation. Sonnichsen and Police Chief Steve Scott said the house is lowering nearby property values and that the house is unsafe following a kitchen fire. It was determined the landowner was not notified of the property being on Tuesday’s agenda and the city council postponed any decisions until the land owner is notified and can give one last word on the matter.

Consideration of approving the placement of a temporary bathroom in the square was not approved in a three to one vote. Councilman Dave Schmidt said a temporary bathroom was better than the porta-potty but Jacob Holcomb said he is against adding anything that would change the view of the city square. Holcomb said he would rather put effort and money into a permanent bathroom to possibly be located inside the Great Western Bank ATM vestibule.

Larry Miller said there should be no hurry for adding a bathroom in a park where the playground is closed at this time due to COVID-19 Directed Health Measures. This led to a discussion saying that city parks are still open, but the playgrounds are not.

The council approved the appointment of Duane Taylor to the Planning Commission for a term ending February 2023. The Handi Bus Standard Operating Procedures for Drug and Alcohol Testing was also approved with Stephanie Wright adding that an extensive process is managed in order to ensure the safety of everyone riding the Handi Bus.

Following weeks’ long discussion surrounding Ordinance 1224, Fireworks Application Fee, the council voted to amend the fee and raise it from $300 to $1,000.

Cozad resident and fireworks stand owner Troy Wheeler spoke again on Tuesday night saying he is opposed to raising the fee by so much and felt that the increase is meant to not welcome outside vendors to Broken Bow. Councilman Dave Schmidt said this was not meant to make anyone feel unwelcome but that the fee needed to be changed in order to help support the Broken Bow Firemen’s July 4 fireworks display.

Broken Bow fireman Joe Franssen said 100% of the fire department’s fireworks stand goes to the public display but an increased application fee of $1,000 for vendors still does not cover even a fourth of the total cost. Franssen said the department “works very hard to do the best that we can” and he asked for support of the council to pass the ordinance to raise the fee to $1,000 that will go support the display.

The three readings of Ordinance 1224 were waived and the council approved raising the fee as well as raising the liability insurance to $2 million.

The meting adjourned at 7:03 p.m. and the next City Council Meeting will be on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 6:00 pm.