Mayor Speaks Briefly On Latest Grievance; Council Approves Material Purchase For New Picnic Shelter

BROKEN BOW— While the Broken Bow City Council agenda was full, the meeting ran very efficiently on Tuesday, August 27.

The meeting kicked off where the council allowed a 60 day continuance on the issue of possibly condemning and demolishing a property at 631 South 9th Ave. The property sustained fire damage in the early 2000’s and has since then not received any repairs.

The board had informed the owner of the property approximately a year ago that the house needed to be repaired. After a number of delays and postponements of the issue, the board informed the owner on Tuesday that he has until October 22 to show progress on fixing the home or it could be condemned and demolished.

Ordinances 1206 and 1207 for Water and Sewer Rates were back on the agenda for the second reading as part of the three-step plan to manage the budget and raise commercial water and sewer rates.

According to Water/Wastewater Superintendent Darren Marten, the water rates inside city limits will not increase, but commercial rates and rural rates will increase. The flat service fee will also increase by one dollar for sewer rates, with rates also increasing for rural and commercial usage. A final reading of the ordinance will occur at the next meeting with a possible vote taking place as well.

The public participation ordinance was approved after the issue of being too restrictive was brought forward by a member of the public. The council voted unanimously to approve the new ordinance which will allow for five minutes to speak about the subject and to also ask questions to council members.

Asking questions to city staff and employees will not be permitted unless granted by the presiding officer. City Clerk Stephanie Wright informed the board and the public that most of the items and restrictions in the ordinance have exceptions at the discretion of the presiding officer.

The council also approved the use of Melham Park for a bonfire on Ocotber 1 and the closing of 9th Ave. from the Middle School between South 8th Ave. and South 9th Ave. and the use of the Square for the community pep rally on October 4.

The council also approved the use of the Square and the east side parking stalls for the Trunk or Treat Around the Square event on October 31. The final approval for street closures was the approval to close South D St. from South 10th Ave. to South 7th Ave. for the Parade of Lights as well as allowing the use of the Square for the lighting of the Square and the evening activities.

A big budget item on the agenda came from the Broken Bow Park Board as they were approved to purchase the materials for a picnic shelter that is to be built on the north side of Melham Park. The shelter will have an outside measurement of 44 feet and will be shaped as a hexagon.

The shelter will also have no sides which will allow for access from all sides. The council approved the purchase of the materials for the picnic shelter in the approximate amount of $17,380 plus the approximate cost of concrete in the amount of $4,800 to not exceed the budget.

The final agenda item was the amending of the city budget which, according to City Treasurer Nancy Coufal, is required by the state when the city may go over the budget. The three items that the city amended for was the HandiBus Grant/Purchase in the amount of $34,000, Police Officer for $51,260, and Power Plant Engine Repairs that were listed at $40,000.

Prior to the board entering executive session regarding the collective bargaining, Council President Rod Sonnichsen informed the public that he would be exploring the options of the next step to take in the latest grievance filed against the Mayor.

In the grievance filed by Electrical Superintendent Jeremy Tarr, it was stated by Tarr that Mayor Berghorst told him that “Jon didn’t care and said he was the boss and we will do whatever he says. As for the Utility Board, he didn’t care what they had to say. We are his employees and he is in charge, and we will do what he wants.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Berghorst spoke briefly to the grievance saying, “In no way shape or form did I ever say the Utility Board was wasteful or a waste or any of the boards for that matter. Every single board is important, everybody has their place, and everybody has their heart in this and we are all here to work together.”

The next Broken Bow City Council Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 10 at 6 PM at the Broken Bow Public Library.