City hikes electric rates, talks sidewalks, gets clear on HVFD project
The Hebron City Council passed an electric hike during the regular meeting earlier this month. The raise, two percent across the board, takes effect immediately.
After studying the figures over the last month, council president Larry Fangmeier said he thought the increase was appropriate. “No need to go up the four percent Nebraska Public Power is going.”
City manager Chris Fangmeier said the sub-transmission rate had not gone up as it had in the past allowing the city to keep the increase under the expected four percent.
A current copy of how the increase affects individual households and businesses is kept on file at the city office.
The council also re-visited the sidewalk issue this month. Following complaints last month, the council decided to canvas the town to see where sidewalks might be needed. Unfortunately there are large areas with no sidewalks and high traffic areas that have no sidewalks, said council member Beth Goldhammer who presented a map of her district. “There are also areas where there is a sidewalk, but then it ends right in the middle of a block for some reason,” she said.
The council sees a potential sidewalk project as quite large and anyone who would need to put in a sidewalk will need to be assessed for the cost. Council members expressed a desire to hear from citizens about this subject. “We’d like them to weigh in on this issue,” Goldhammer said and asked for input from anyone, but especially those who would be faced with installing a sidewalk on their property.
Hebron Volunteer Fire Department captains addressed the council about a proposed addition to the firebarn. The issue was raised last month when council members questioned the construction. The proposed addition, which the council was not told about, will increase meeting, dining and kitchen space in the current facility.
HVFD spokesperson Justin Johnson said the department had leftover funds from both donations and what the City gives them each year. “And we were under the impression that if we didn’t use it, we would lose it,” he said referring to the decision to extend the facility.
The HVFD operates under three accounts including donations and fund raising money, a city budget, and insurance collections for the ambulance service. Often, the Department combines donations and fund raising money with the city funds to purchase equipment, make repairs and generally improve the working conditions of the department. “This year we had $4,900 left over and thought we could put that money toward improving the building,” Johnson said. “We didn’t want to lose it,” and added that because of the timing and volunteer work from several individuals, the Department was able to take steps toward starting the project such as purchasing roof rafters, clearing off the lot and staking the perimeter.
Council president Larry Fangmeier said the money designated to the department would always be there, so in essence there was no risk of losing it, but that the city funds were there to cover the operations and maintenance of the department, not for capital outlay. “It looks like we’ve made a down payment on a project that is not funded,” he said.
Councilwoman Goldhammer agreed stating first that she wished the council had been informed of the project. “There is no disputing the good work you do for this community,” she said, “but I was under the impression the area behind the building was going to be for more parking. We (the council) approved more parking. Now I’m concerned that $4,900 isn’t going to be enough for your project.”
Johnson said the decision to extend the facility was due to use of the building by the public. “It’s open to everyone, public or private,” he said stating church groups, seed dealers, police departments and alumni associations often use it. “Our fund raising was good this year. We’ve experienced a lot of support from the community and we just wanted to give back to them.”
The council did not move on the proposal and Fangmeier said later the HVFD members were going to meet to further discuss the direction they will go with the project.