Council to consider ordinance setting salaries at next meeting
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
An ordinance is being drawn up by the city attorney that will set annual salaries for Imperial’s mayor and council members.
The positions have been unpaid since September 2010. The suggestion to reinstate salaries was brought to the council by local resident Jan Elliott.
After making the initial request at the Feb. 19 meeting, Elliott returned to Monday’s meeting saying she polled 17 people and 16 of them were okay with a $5,000 salary for the mayor. One suggested $3,500.
Also suggested was a $1,500 annual salary for council members.
Elliott said she received no opposition from those with whom she visited.
“If we want good leaders in our town, I think it should be a paid position,” she said.
It was also noted that any of the elected officials could refuse their salaries. City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said that was done a couple times in the past when the office-holders were being paid. One chose to donate his/her salary to a specific project.
The ordinance the council will first look at during the March 17 meeting will include an annual salary of $5,200 for the mayor and $2,600 for each council member.
They would be paid quarterly.
While an initial suggestion indicated salaries shouldn’t consider attendance, further discussion resulted in factoring attendance into the ordinance. City Attorney Josh Wendell said any parts of the ordinance can be stricken as it’s discussed.
State law requires any change in the mayor/council salaries be made before the General Election in November, and would not go into effect until after the council and mayor are sworn in after the election.
Other council business
Council members were informed that workman’s compensation insurance for employees at the Manor and Parkview/Heights is now with a high-risk policy after discovering the former carrier, Guaranty National, dropped their coverage on Dec. 21. It was not discovered until last month, resulting in no coverage between Dec. 21 and Feb. 21. However, the Manor continued to pay its workman’s comp premiums for January and February, amounting to about $35,000, which they are working to get returned. The high-risk policy now covering Manor employees has a price tag of $42,397 through June 30. They hope to have coverage with another company at the start of their fiscal year on July 1. Walt Dye of RHD, which manages the senior care facilities here, and Administrator Melissa Larsen were at the meeting with a workman’s comp agent from Scottsbluff. In another area, Larsen reported that 29 employees were enrolled in the new health insurance plan. Sign-up concluded Friday.
Development of East 3rd Street in the city’s Cornerstone Commercial Park was discussed. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee, at a Feb. 21 meeting, recommended proceeding with development using a 10-year bond to be paid back with LB 840 sales tax funds. Jason Tuller, community development director, said the project would include concrete paving and curb/gutter from Holland St. east to Highway 61, with gravel street development on Orsa St. between 2nd and 3rd Sts. Estimated cost was $1.03 million. Action was tabled. Council President John Arterburn, who conducted the meeting, said he’d like input from Mayor Dwight Coleman and council member Chad Yaw, who were not at Monday’s meeting, before proceeding.
The city’s annual audit was approved on a 3-0 vote. Terry Galloway of Almquist, Maltzahn, Galloway & Luth highlighted sections of the audit, making some recommendations. One recommendation dealt with refinancing city bonds at the current interest rates when they come due, which would save the city thousands of dollars. Another suggested a look at utility rates, saying there was a profit in the department, but not as high as they like to see. He said the Manor’s profit of more than $154,000 during the last fiscal year was “very good,” noting they don’t usually see that in Nebraska.
Dorothy Hixson was given another extension to compliance with the city’s dog/cat ordinance. She attended the meeting and said she has reduced the number of dogs she originally had in her home, but asked for more time to comply totally as she waits for a possible rural home to become available. The council approved a motion giving her until March 31 to reduce the number to three dogs, but she must be in compliance by May 31. The city ordinance allows two dogs/one cat or two cats/one dog per residence in the city limits. She also asked why more people aren’t cited for noncompliance, noting she had a list of many who are not. Police Chief Ryan Wisnieski said he will look into those homeowners for possible violations.
Action on street closings for car shows at the fair was tabled. City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said a request from Harchelroad Motors was made for closing streets for the corvette show they plan to bring back to the fair this year. Rex Felker of the Car Nutz organization was at the meeting, saying they will also have their 10th annual show at the fair and are expecting more vehicles, as well. The two groups will discuss needs and report back at the next meeting.