City Council Reluctantly Votes to Approve Street Improvement Assessments

BROKEN BOW—A fired up crowd filled the council chambers at Tuesday’s meeting for the scheduled hearing of levying special assessments. The city council voted to levy special assessments for the properties located in Street Improvement Districts Nos. 2014-1 and 2014-2 (downtown and 5th Avenue).

(Property owners can view the amount assessed on their properties by visiting the city website. The amount can be paid without interest by January 17 or payments can be made over a 15-year period with an annual interest rate of 3.92%.)

Individuals who attended the hearing voiced similar concerns of feeling punished and that having to pay assessments is a “slap in the face.” Barbara Koch-Bacon expressed her opinion that the downtown and 5th Avenue improvements were inconvenient for individuals and businesses. Lloyd Ramsey did state that the downtown looks beautiful, but now there is more work to be done. Gene Hendricks asked the council not to adopt the resolution and Angie Jones expressed her frustration as a property owner.

“This isn’t right. You told us—I think I talked to you on the phone [city administrator] when we first started this—that this was going to be paid by [sales] tax dollars—and so now you’re going to go up again and go ahead and charge us…in my house if I don’t have the money to buy something, we don’t buy it. That’s how it is. You don’t go ahead and say well we’ll just go ahead and do this, we’ll have someone else pick up the bill. That’s not right. And I’m really disgusted that you all get to vote on this and it’s our property. It’s not right, it’s not right,” Jones said.

City Administrator Brent Clark confirmed during the hearing that sales tax and bonds will pay for the project and that the approximate cost of the downtown project came to $6.2 million; the assessment amounts will cover about $200,000 of the total amount.

On numerous occasions the meeting grew chaotic in which multiple people were speaking at once and order had to be called by the mayor and council. Council President Rod Sonnichsen acknowledged there are many public concerns but that concerns were not brought up in previous meetings. Chris Myers stated he and other council members “want to do the best job possible.”

 

The downtown and 5th Avenue project included paving, driveways, sidewalks, subgrade preparation, excavation, storm sewer pipe, inlets, utility adjustments, seeding, concrete removal, water main, service lines, fire hydrants, manholes, sanitary sewer main, lighting, and other related items.

A motion to table the resolution was dropped due to uncertainties and timeline issues. Jacob Holcomb eventually made a motion to approve levying the special assessments and Sonnichsen seconded. The motion passed. Holcomb, Sonnichsen, and Neth voted yes and Myers abstained.

The council also approved a payment of $15,109.75 to Central Nebraska Electric, Inc. and $8,153 to Westbrook Audio for work at the library. An agreement was approved between the Nebraska Department of Transportation and the city of Broken Bow for the rectangular rapid flashing beacon installation at the stoplights on Highway 2 and Highway 21. The council moved into closed session at 1:40 p.m.

The next city council meeting will be on December 12 at noon.

 

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