By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Electrical rate increases were approved by the city council Monday. Imperial utility customers will see the new, higher rates Dec. 1.
The increases will affect all eight rate classes that receive electricity through the Imperial Public Power District (IPPD). Those include residential, commercial and irrigation customers.
The Nebraska Municipal Power Pool (NMPP) study data shows an average 12.1 percent increase across IPPD’s eight rate classes and each rate class will be affected differently based, in part, on their cost of service, said Public Works Supt. Pat Davison.
Irrigators will see the largest increase, according to Monday’s discussion, because they are the most expensive to serve, Davison said.
Irrigators can help cut some of their costs by allowing controls on their pumping during high peak usage times in the summer. The city has offered those credits for years to irrigators, he noted.
For residential customers, the increases will depend on how much power is used. A look at the accompanying charts shows the probable increases residential customers can expect based on use.
People can find their kWh usage listed on their monthly utility bills to give them an idea on what to expect.
Winter rates are a bit higher than summer. Summer rates are in effect from June through September. Winter rates are used from October through May.
Monday’s 4-0 approval of the resolution raising rates came after a NMPP’s cost-of-service rate study.
The resolution also includes a 3.9 percent average rate increase starting Oct. 1, 2015.
After 2015, another rate study will be done, Davison said, but NMPP is already projecting about 4 percent increases each of the following two years.
The city purchases 65 percent of its power from the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). The rest comes from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which uses water-power generation, with about 5 percent from wind energy commitments.
Davison said customers can call the city office if they have questions and talk to him or Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland.
Airport Authority board member Bill Bauerle attended the meeting updating the council on an improvement project in the spring that will pave the ramps and taxiways with concrete. Paulsen, Inc. of Cozad was awarded the bid for the $1.78 million project. A 90 percent Aviation Trust Fund grant was received for the project.
On another issue, Bauerle said he is concerned with liability at the drainage pond the city built on airport property. Recently, Bauerle said he witnessed a dirt bike and several four-wheelers riding around the pond, which could be as deep as 12 to 15 feet. He said the city’s agreement with the Airport Authority to build the pond on airport property included building a fence and maintaining the slope so the berm stays intact around the pond. Bauerle said neither has been done. Immediately, council members directed Supt. Pat Davison to put up No Trespassing signs, and they will look into fencing and some dirt work for sloping.
Three appraisers, Blake Moreland, Al Zuege and Tom Rau, assigned to assess damages for the easement across Frenchman Valley Produce property at the city’s northwest edge, determined the amount should be $5,760. At the direction of its city engineer, Miller & Associates, drainage pipe was run across the property where an easement already existed for the city’s Sage Addition/West 12th paving project. A total of $2,500 has already been paid by the engineer.
Council member John Arterburn suggested the engineer also pay the balance of the $5,760. City Attorney Josh Wendell will include that in a letter to the engineer asking them to reimburse the city for the $3,260 difference. The council voted to make the payment to the court. If owner Tim May does not accept the offer, Wendell said proceedings will then be before the court.
A higher number of residents than anticipated paid their assessments on last year’s street project in the Sage Addition and West 12th St. With those extra dollars now in the street department, the council voted to use that money to pay off the street portion of a 2009 bond issue used for a combined street/water project. A total of $360,000 was refinanced in action Monday night that is expected to save the city $73,406.30 over the life of the new issue due to lower interest rates. The bonds recently sold for the Sage/West 12th project cannot be refinanced for five years.
New police car coming
A new police vehicle, a 2015 Ford Sedan Police Interceptor, similar to a Ford Taurus, will be purchased for the Imperial Police Dept., with a 4-0 vote approval. It will be purchased through the state bid process for $26,669. Chief Ryan Wisnieski’s 2014-15 budget included funds for the purchase through Imperial Country Ford.
City will move water main
At a cost of $8,000 to $10,000, the city will move a water main at its expense that is laid about 16 feet beyond the city’s 10-foot right-of-way along East Highway 6. It is now running underneath the property on which Harchelroad Motors is building its new dealership. Supt. Davison said Harchelroad’s requested it be moved and he agreed due to potential damage should the main ever break.
Annual fees for mobile home parks in the city will be discussed further at the next meeting. The city’s new zoning regulations adopted earlier this month added a new license fee for mobile home parks. The rationale for the annual licensing, Leyland said, was that while some individual mobile homes in the park may meet nuisance codes, they can also then sit unoccupied, affecting the atmosphere of the whole area. Some of the licensing requirements would include no boarded-up windows, skirting on all units and repaired fences. There was some question on what happens if one or a couple of units in the mobile home park do not meet licensing standards. The city is acquiring a license application used in other communities and will review it next meeting and further discuss fees. The proposed annual fee was $25, but some on the council felt it should be higher, possibly $100. The annual fee, to start in March 2015, will be paid by the mobile home park, not individual units there.
West Central Nebraska Development District (WCNDD) will serve as Imperial’s nuisance officer again for 2015 after a resolution was adopted 4-0. The city is charged $65 per hour when WCNDD is asked to do nuisance work here.
Money from the city’s sewer department will be used to help supplement the Imperial Manor’s bond reserve funds. Clerk/Administrator Leyland said she was contacted by the manor’s auditor that they have a $35,000 shortfall in meeting the bond reserve requirements this year, and additional funds needed next year. Though Leyland recommended a $50,000 transfer, the council voted 4-0 to transfer $40,000 for that purpose. While it’s not an actual transfer of cash at this time, council member Dave Fulton noted it is a commitment of city funds if the manor is unable to make the bond payment.
Sixty tons of scrap tires were collected over two weekends this month in a pair of recycling efforts by the city. The scrap tire recycling weekends were held over four days and were a huge success, reported Jason Tuller, the city’s community development director. The collections on Nov. 7-8 and 14-15 were free of charge to residents thanks to a Dept. of Environmental Quality grant.
A tractor and loader owned by the city will be sold by sealed bid. According to the resolution passed Monday declaring the John Deere 5400 and its loader surplus property, advertising for the opportunity to bid will begin Dec. 4. Deadline for submitting a bid will be Dec. 29 at 3 p.m. The council set a minimum $5,000 bid for the equipment.
John Arterburn served as a council member at his last meeting Monday. He chose not to run for re-election this year after serving a four-year term. Charlesa Kline was elected to fill the seat and will take office next month.