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Council discusses need for back-up ambulance – raises electric rates

The Hebron City Council passed an electric rate increase this month as it geared up for an impending wholesale increase in January. The Nebraska Public Power Board of Directors approved a 6.5 percent rate increase for its wholesale customers in November scheduling it to become active Jan. 1, 2012.

Council president Larry Fangmeier first warned city leaders that the increase was coming last October. Since then the utility committee has been working on how to best deal with the extra cost and last month, the council agreed to pass some of that cost on to the city’s customers with a four percent rate increase across the board. However, the council also tacked on an extra dollar for services.

As an example of how the rate increase affects residential rates inside the city limits, winter rates for lighting and heating will be .1025 per kw (kilowatts) for the first 750 kws and .0606 per kw over that. Summer rates will be .1036 per kw for the first 750 kws and .0960 per kw over that. The new service charge will be $7.

Rural residential customer rates in the winter will now be .1091 per kw for the first 750 kws, and .0618 per kw after that and in the summer .1090 and .0870, respectively. These customers will also be assessed a $9 service charge.

Commercial customers within the city limits will be charged .1025 per kw for the first 750 kws, .0625 per kw for 750-2500 kws, and .0606 per kw for over 2500 kws in the winter. Summer rates are .1036, .1029, and .1017 per kw respectively. Commercial customers will now pay a service charge of $10. (Rural commercial customers use the same pay scale, but are charged an additional $5 per month.)

A complete copy of the ordinance is kept on file at the city offices.

In other business, Hebron fire chief BJ Linton said the hospital’s acquisition of the Thayer County ambulance will eventually become a hardship for the city of Hebron. “We used the county ambulance as a back-up to our unit,” he told the council. “Right now we’re using Deshler.” (The Deshler fire department owns two units.)

Linton said a used unit would work fine for the situation and when the time comes to get a new one, the main unit in service could be rotated down to back-up status. The used unit would be used as trade-in or sold to someone else. “Honestly, we really don’t have a choice in this,” he added. “We’re being called on more and more by the smaller communities because they just don’t have the man-power. Our calls continue to increase – we’re already ahead in number of calls over last year. That puts a burden on the city because our ambulance is sitting somewhere else.”

Earlier this year, Linton approached the council about increasing the department’s sinking fund to be prepared when the time comes to buy a new fire truck. During those discussions, the chief said the ambulance was purchased using donations.

The city leaders asked Linton to investigate prices of used ambulances and cost projections for getting a back-up unit. They also said the matter of the sinking fund would have to wait until August as it is a budget item.

In further business, Mayor Shane Day selected his boards for the upcoming year stating the biggest change would be a dissolving of the economic development board into the city’s planning commission. Five people will now serve on the commission including John Musgrave, Mike Prellwitz, Lyle Burd, Shirley Finke and Pat Kenner.

A complete list of boards and their members is kept on file at the city offices.

Committee assignments were also made during the meeting: Financial Planning and Appropriation Committee (Larry Fangmeier, Beth Goldhammer, Kurk Wiedel); Utility Services (Jay Bauer, Wiedel, and Rich Koch); Transportation and Community Beautification (Robert Dodes, Bauer, and Fangmeier); Parks, Recreation, and City Facilities (Wiedel, Koch, and Goldhammer); Ordinance, Policy and Business Administration (Koch, Fangmeier, Dodes); Risk Management (Goldhammer, Dodes, and Bauer). Larry Fangmeier was elected to be president of the council.

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