CUSTER COUNTY— Repurposing CDBG funds and the Anselmo railroad crossing were the main topics of conversation on Tuesday, March 10 at the Custer County Board of Supervisors regular meeting.
Andrew Ambriz, Custer Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, stopped in to talk with the board about a plan to repurpose the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds which are currently used as a type of business loan. If the board approves the changeover, the funds would be repurposed to grant homeowners in Custer County municipalities a chance at improving their homes with a 10-year forgivable loan.
Ambriz said the plans are still in the rough stages, but to those who qualify for the loan they would be given $25,000 to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
The $25,000 loan would also be forgiven if the homeowner stays in the home for ten years after the loan is granted. Ambriz did say that the loan is prorated to where each year that a person lives in the home 10% of the loan is forgiven.
Also part of the proposed change over is that the Central Nebraska Economic Development District would take over the administration of the loans associated with the CDBG. Members of the board did express concerns that those eligible must be located in a Custer County municipality and rural residents would not be eligible. No decision was made regarding the possible changeover.
While the supervisors were unanimous on all other decisions, one vote was a near split concerning the railroad crossing near Anselmo. The estimate on the cost of the crossing is $190,654. Back in December 2019, discussions had taken place where the county agreed to pay around $20,000 to go toward the crossing project.
The other part of the project is to be paid for by The Anderson, Inc. as safety issues of trucks turning and the railroad crossing so close to the highway prompted the business to bring the problem to the supervisors. During December discussions, Andersons were to pay approximately $95,000 to go toward the project, but after Tuesday’s meeting, the county may be stuck with a majority of the cost.
While the overall estimate of the cost has not changed, Andersons have agreed to only pay $25,000 this year which means the county will now be stuck with paying around $150,000. Board Chairman Barry Fox was reluctant to agree to support the project as the county was now paying nearly eight times what was agreed on in December. Supervisor Bobby Myers said that it may be more money, but if it prevents loss of life “I don’t want to the board that said no.”
Supervisor Don Olson said that if the board voted to send a letter of commitment and the final bid price is higher than expected the board still has the option to back out. The board did vote to approve a letter of commitment being sent on a 4-2 vote. Supervisors Doug Stunkel, Dwain Bryner, Don Olson, and Bobby Myers voted “yes” while Supervisors Tammy Kleeb and Matt Eggleston voted “no.”
The county also voted to participate in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) for bridge structures. This program would help protect bridges and roadways at high risk for flooding. Through the program, the NRCS would pay 75% of the cost while the county would pay 25%.
The cost was estimated by Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen to be in the area of $323,000 with the hope that Custer County would pay in the area of $81,000. As the project would take place this year, Jacobsen said the only way to do this project is to buy the materials and hire outside help. The board agreed and voted unanimously to take part in the NRCS EWP.
Other approvals included accepting the recycling report from Recycling Manager Kelly Flynn, approving special designated liquor licenses to Cup N Cork for the Barrel Racing Showdown and the Loup Valley Ag Society for the Comstock Windmill Festival, declaring county property as surplus, and approving Supervisor Bryner to decide on a tree trimming service that would cost no more than $2,500
The next Custer County Supervisors meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 24 at 9 AM.