By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
City council members voted 3-0 Monday night to file a complaint with the Nebraska Real Estate Commission regarding the city’s purchase of the former Melvin and Dorothy Miller property.
Doug Gaswick, stepping down from his Council President’s seat at the table to the speaker’s podium, said he was “changing hats” temporarily to bring the issue before the council.
He had indicated after the council’s Oct. 26 meeting that he personally “as a concerned citizen” was going to file a complaint with the Real Estate Commission regarding the Miller property transaction.
However, after his research into the filing process he felt the city might want the opportunity “to file this on behalf of the community.”
Gaswick, who put the information together in the complaint papers, said it is based on three points:
1) The city did not receive all of the water rights associated with the property at the time of the negotiations;
2) The city was not made aware of the fact there were 83 acres of water rights instead of 63 acres; and
3) The city was not made aware of the intent to sell the 20 acres of water rights, nor was the city given the opportunity to buy them.
“I think at a minimum we should at least be filing a complaint,” Gaswick said.
Moreland Realty of Imperial handled the sale for the Millers.
Mike and Jane Moreland were not at Monday’s meeting, but attended the meeting Oct. 26.
At the October meeting, Jane Moreland said it was clear during the negotiations and within the purchase agreement and contract that 78 acres of ground was selling to the city with 63 acres of its water rights.
In July, before the city closed on the Miller property sale in August, the Upper Republican NRD approved a water transfer of 20 acres from the Miller ground to AK Acres.
A purchase agreement was signed in June, and the city put down $20,000 at that time in earnest money, paying the balance of the $360,000 purchase price in August.
City officials believed they were getting all water rights on the ground in the sale, according to discussion at the Oct. 26 meeting.
According to City Attorney Phil Pierce, the result of filing such a complaint can run the gamut of finding nothing to pulling the real estate license. The real estate firm will have the opportunity to respond.
According to City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland, the complaint was signed by Mayor Annie Longan Monday night and mailed Tuesday.
Other council business
- Jakob Burke was welcomed to his first meeting as a student member of the city council. He was one of several students appointed to city boards and commissions recently. He has no vote and cannot attend closed sessions, but is invited to offer input on issues.
- The council will recommend that K-D Capitol Liquor, owned by Kris Musick, be granted a special designated liquor license for several wine tasting events she’s planning to offer during the holiday season. The city will have to write a letter of recommendation prior to each event this year, but Musick plans to apply for a one-time license application next year that will cover the multiple events.
- Imperial’s senior services facilities received good marks from Steve Placke of Shonsey & Associates, who recently completed their 2008-09 audit. “There is a lot of improvement over a year ago,” he told council members. He commended the staff on holding costs down, and also noted the hike in private pay rates the past year, while significant, was needed. However, there are challenges ahead, which include a new Medicaid reimbursement plan, which is likely to be more inadequate in covering costs. Another is the special legislative session now underway, which could freeze those reimbursement rates, he said.
- As the city does each year, several unpaid utility accounts were written off so they can be removed from accounts receivable as bad debt. This year’s list totaled $4,547.53 and involved 26 separate accounts. City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said they still make attempts to collect the bills. On next meeting’s agenda, the council will be discussing an increase in utility deposit fees.
- As the city prepares for its 125th birthday celebration in July, 2010, the council was asked to help supplement costs of the event with city sales tax funds. A tentative budget of $8,350 has been put together by the planning committee. Leslie Carlholm, a committee member, said a number of fund-raisers and memorabilia sales are planned to offset some of those costs. The council voted to fund the entire amount, with the stipulation that any funds raised will go back into the fund. A separate city account will be set up to keep a clean tracking of all transactions.
- The city’s Strategic Plan for 2009-2014 was approved covering areas such as business retention/attraction, leadership development, community improvement, parks and recreation, housing, nuisance abatement and infrastructure. Carlholm, the city’s community development director, and the council will use the plan as a guide for the future.
- One piece of excess public works equipment, a 1994 mower, was sold for $1,005. A $105 bid for an old Chevy pickup was rejected as too low. No bids came in on the city’s old bucket truck that was also advertised for sale.