Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Negotiations continue between City of Kimball and Keep Kimball Beautiful

 


In an effort to come to a working agreement, a few members of Keep Kimball Beautiful, the Kimball city council and the city’s board of public works met once again for negotiations last Tuesday night.

Keep Kimball Beautiful board treasurer Sarah Bouse began with only those items in the draft that had changed without previous consideration by her board.

“The highlighted part is just things that were added or changed, and I just wanted to go through them because some of them weren’t talked about,” she said. “Some things were changed and we wondered where they even came from.”

Sarah Bouse, Dawn Moeser and Spud Rowley represented Keep Kimball Beautiful, while Mayor Keith Prunty, councilman James Shields, City Administrator Daniel Ortiz, and Board of Public Works President Jim Cederburg represented the city. The team first compromised on the timeframe needed for the organization to vacate the property.

Initially the city requested 60 days for the organization to empty the premises, in the event of termination of the agreement. However, KKB asked for up to a year, since grant processes would need to be completed.

“If we have to terminate an agreement, we need to know further than 60 days in advance because what are we supposed to do with all of our grants?” Bouse questioned. “We can’t leave NDEQ out there like that. And the services we provide to the public that we give? That is quite a bit just to pull immediately.”

“Sixty days is really standard,” Ortiz stated. “We are not going to do a year. That is too far out. If you want three months, we can say three months, but it is not going to be longer than that. ”

While KKB agreed to vacate the property within 90 days in case of termination, city representatives agreed to hear requests for extensions on that timeframe if necessary.

“If you have something going on, explain to us that you can’t and we will work with you on that,” Prunty said. “That’s what I am saying.”

The second cause for concern, on behalf of KKB, was a line stating that financial support from the city could be used for improvements to the property whether or not KKB agrees. Thee improvements deemed necessary by the city would be taken care of by city personnel, the cost of which would be deducted from the organization’s financial support, because it is a city-owned property.

Bouse explained that the KKB board decides how their financial support is used, whether for operations, education or updates to the aging building.

“We understand the state the building is in, and we have worked with it. Some improvements we can do a little patch work to, but we still have our business that has to be conducted and that is what we use the funds for,” Bouse said. “What if the KKB board does not want to do those improvements at that time? So basically you are forcing our hand.”

Rowley maintained that building maintenance is a line item on the city’s budget for both the landfill and the sanitation departments, which split support for the organization.

“It (building maintenance) is not going to be to the benefit of any of our city operations,” Ortiz countered. “I can’t justify funding it, and taking repairs and maintenance for the landfill and that whole operation and stick it into the building as we have been.”

Ortiz said that building maintenance is not a line item for the sanitation department. That department covers the garbage truck that is housed in the building that KKB uses.

“If there is a need that comes up for a major improvement that absolutely needs to be done and you guys don’t have the means, or your board doesn’t want to do that, then city has the discretion to move forward and do so, and apply that towards your financial portion,” Ortiz said.

Rowley explained that the organization is constantly trying to improve the building when they are able to do so, including fixing a door and several windows. He added that while the organization has benefitted from the city, it also is a benefit to the city and the residents.

“We turn around and do that grant process which saves a lot of money for the landfill and the sanitation and running the truck and wages and fuel,” Rowley said.

“The only thing that raises a red flag for us now is that if we can’t do it on the city’s timeline you will take our money anyway,” Bouse said.

“I don’t think we ever implied that, did we? Is that what we are saying?” Prunty asked.

“As a last resort,” Ortiz answered. “It is a case by case basis.”

Bouse said that kind of wording makes it difficult to build an agreement that will last for years through many administrations, because it is subjective when determining priorities.

“What if that was just out of there? We have worked together since I have been there, 18 years. We have been in that building and there has been nothing until this last year,” Rowley said.

Cederburg stated that the paragraph could include a clause stating that the funding will be used at the KKB board’s discretion.

“That is how I have always read it. They are the ones that have to decide how that money is used,” Cederburg added. “You get the money, how you use it is your (KKB’s) decision. Does that help?”

Ortiz argued that it takes away the city’s power as a last resort.

“If we ever get to that point, it is not the issue of how the money is used, it is an issue of not complying with the agreement,” Cederburg countered.

Prunty agreed with Cederburg, and the words “or for improvements to the property” was removed, with the parties agreeing that, should the need arise, the entities would meet to come to agreements regarding repairs and improvements.

Although the committee came to an agreement on these issues during their most recent meeting, according to Ortiz, as of Tuesday afternoon he had not heard back from them with any feedback, though they were to hold a board meeting Monday evening to discuss the most recent changes. Consequently, he does not yet consider the agreement finalized.

Once finalized, the agreement must be ratified by the city council before it is officially approved.

 

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