The Hebron City Council tackled a list of chores and updates last week during the regular Monday night meeting.
Chris Fangmeier said the wholesale electric increase, which is already in effect, is proving costly. Norris Public Power recently raised the City’s bill by $1,200 per month. “They base the increase off of our highest usage which has not changed in quite awhile,” Fangmeier said. “We’re really kind of cheap though; I think Deshler pays 15 cents per kilowatt while we pay 11 cents.”
City clerk Jean Nagey said she had never seen it go up so much at one shot. “I’ve seen it go up by a couple of hundred dollars or so, but never this much.”
The council is going to look at ways to pay for the increase since attempting to withstand the hike is already causing a burden.
It will most likely be forced to pass the additional cost on to customers.
The blacktop overlay on the approaches to the First Street bridge are in need of replacing again. City worker Karl Wiedel said he thinks there is something wrong with the base because the approaches were overlaid just last year. “I think truck traffic is ten times worse on that street than it used to be,” he said, “but it’s also wearing away awfully fast.” Wiedel said he’d like to have County Road Superintendent Richard Heinrichs take a core sample of the base to see if it is holding up.
The new overlay will cost $75,000 per approach, a cost the council feels is cheap compared to a possible accident due to a damaged road. The council agreed to incorporate a base test through Heinrichs.
The City also hired Topkote Inc., to fill the cracks in city roads. Work should begin soon.
Council member Beth Goldhammer said the Pioneer Center will be completely stripped Saturday, March 24. “We’re going to clean it out,” she said Monday night. “The project is really coming together well.” A host of volunteers are expected to help with the cleanup and once the facility is gutted, restoration work can begin. “We can always use more volunteers,” Goldhammer added, “and the City is providing breakfast and lunch that day. We’d like to finish cleaning it out in one day.”
In the meantime, Chuck Fink, the unofficial manager of the project, said he received bids on the electric and heating work. The City chose Hebron Electric with a bid of $15,000.
HVFD Chief B.J. Linton said the department is considering moving the fireworks display to the airport. “We are sitting borderline on crowd distance as far as safety is concerned at our present location,” he said, “and the trees keep encroaching on our area making it smaller yet.”
The airport would give them more working room at a safer distance and increase the viewing area for patrons.
The council also approved adding to the fireworks fund increasing from $2,700 to $3,000.
Finally, the council heard two complaints Monday night including roaming dogs and utility deposits.
In the first, a citizen asked the council the proper protocol for reporting loose dogs on her property. She said when she called the local law enforcement center, she was referred to Stephanie Willhite at Muddy Paws; however, often there was no one to answer the phone.
The city is aware that Willhite has another job, but said she is still collecting stray animals. They also learned that Willhite has approached the lawn enforcement center wondering if she could begin patrolling, since it is difficult to catch animals when she has to wait for someone to call. The animal could have easily moved on by the time she can answer the call.
Council members were informed they needed to make a provision for such an action in the existing ordinance. The matter was extended to next month’s agenda in order to legally make the provision. The council will also discuss how to pay Willhite should they allow her to patrol.
In the second complaint, the same citizen wondered why utility deposits were not returned after a certain time period, especially when the person responsibly paid their bill on time.
Also, if a person owns two structures on separate property and wants electricity in them, they must pay $250 per structure, which they do not get back until they sell the property or structure. Councilman Robert Dodes said he agreed with the complaint. “I’ve paid $250 on two properties and am thinking of installing power in a third place,” he said, “but I already have $500 of my money sitting with the City. So, needless to say, I don’t have power on my third property yet.”
Council member Goldhammer said the ordinance was made to form a safety net; it was made to stop the city from being stiffed by people who don’t pay their last power bill after leaving town. “I think we can set a time limit,” she said, “maybe after 18 months or so we can give back the deposits. And if someone is late with a payment or defaults on a bill, then their time starts over.”
The council discussed adding a time limit to the ordinance and will talk about it further next month.