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

KKB grants could be lost if funding formula changes

“The future of Keep Kimball Beautiful is in the hands of the public.” - Larissa Binod

 


The City of Kimball Board of Public Works considered a facility use agreement between the city and Keep Kimball Beautiful, the organization that addresses local recycling needs, at its regular board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Board Chairman Jim Cederburg invited City Administrator Daniel Ortiz to take the lead for the discussion.

“If you recall, the June Board of Public Works meeting, we had briefly touched on the nuisance issues and property concerns with regards to the condition of the property,” Ortiz said.

Though the board did hear the nuisance concerns at that earlier meeting, they are not responsible for the recycling center, Keep Kimball Beautiful or nuisance and abatement issues. The board is design is to oversee the public works of Kimball, such as all the utility departments.

Ortiz said that while reviewing the complaints from citizens, council members and city staff realized there was no formal agreement between the city and KKB.

The city administrator said that he, along with a member of the city council and a member of the board of public works, drafted an agreement. They received input from city attorney Kent Hadenfeldt, and the document was also reviewed by him.

Ortiz said the two groups have not yet been able to meet to discuss the agreement.

“If there is nothing specific, I would recommend we just table the action and allow all parties to kind of discuss it and try to hammer these details out,” Ortiz said. “The one thing that is noted in the agreement is that there isn’t a specified amount of financial support. As you are aware, we provide them with a facility, pay the utilities and provide the financial support by way of our landfill revenues collected through the residential household waste.

“If this is going to be an ongoing, multi year agreement, based on what our revenues and budget things are, they will be subject to annual budget amounts.”

Moving forward in the coming fiscal year, Ortiz allocated $1 of the extra $2 collected in landfill fees to the recycling center, cutting that portion of its financial support in half.

“Initially, as I mentioned during our budget process in our past meeting, about the accounting error that shorted the $2 that would have come from the villages and the county, that has been budgeted into this coming fiscal year as well as the $2 amount being reduced from $2 to $1,” Ortiz said. “Um, and moving forward that will just be a discussion item that will be taken into account as we move through our budget process next fiscal year.

“Looking right now at our income statements, if you look at our income you will obviously see that we are over $42,000 short in our landfill revenues. When you look into our budget and take out the cell closure and the equipment purchases that are needed, that is a deficit of close to $130,000. So we are working with terrible numbers to be quite frankly.”

A rate study is planned but the process is slow due to the amount of data needed to generate the study, according to Ortiz. The company processing the data has asked for a five-year history broken down by several factors.

“With trying to process everything else in the office, it just takes a little bit of time for Jean and Laurie and myself to kind of put that together so, that rate study is moving forward but it is a little bit behind where I want it to be, but that would certainly be something I would be taking into account with where our revenue stream is right now.”

“I just want clarification. In 2012 the city made, or the board of public works made the motion, I’ll read it exactly to you. Robinson moved and Prunty seconded to increase the landfill fees $2 a month for Keep Kimball Beautiful,” Larissa Binod addressed the board. “So going forward, we will not necessarily go by this motion? We will go by what the current financial status of the city, or the utilities are? And the proposed budget is taking us from $2 per landfill fee to $1?”

Resident James Ray asked if his utility bill would decrease by $1 to reflect that change as well, to which Ortiz replied that the $1 would just be transferred from the recycling center to the landfill.

“That $2 was specifically for Keep Kimball Beautiful,” Ray said. “You can arbitrarily just change these things without reason?”

“They can raise the rates to make sure that enough revenue to ensure a positive revenue stream at the landfill,” Ortiz said. “In order to make up $42,000, that may mean that your landfill rates may increase $3 or $4 to make sure there is a net revenue there.”

Ortiz further stated that the reason for the change in funding for Keep Kimball Beautiful is the shortfall at the landfill.

“If the board wants to reduce the rate they can so choose so. But in terms of whether the decision to reduce that amount from $2 to $1, can it be superseded? The answer is yes. It can be superseded by this budget process which takes into effect and approved by the city council,” Ortiz added.

Binod informed the board that her grants are written based on historical funding amounts, and that the $9,000 decrease will be very detrimental to her program.

“If you look at the budget worksheet, you will see that the actual amount that’s budgeted, that Keep Kimball Beautiful is set to receive is closer to $51,000. That is taking into account the shortfall from the prior year and what you are receiving,” Ortiz stated. “So technically speaking you are receiving more money this fiscal year.”

Binod reminded Ortiz that $27,000 of that money was in fact money that should have previously been received, but due to the accounting error, it was not.

“I’m just making a note that you are going from $29,000 to $21,000,” Binod said.

Board of Public Works member Dawn Moeser, who began serving on the KKB board as an ex-oficio member and who now serves as a voting member on the KKB board, said that Binod’s concern was not necessarily for this coming year, but for the following year when funding is to decrease some $8,000.

“If the funds can fluctuate at any time, I have no security of what I can write grants for,” Binod said. “What happens after next year? That is my concern.”

“That is kind of what is concerning, we are going to be fine this year, but we have to start writing our grants at the beginning of summer and budget is done in September,” Moeser said. “So we would be in trouble if we were to write that we were going to get this (funding) for sure and not know that. Because that means that we won’t receive the grants. Because then we won’t have the recycle center and we need our recycle center.”

Moeser, along with board of public works chairman Jim Cederburg, has assisted in negotiating the agreement between the city and KKB.

“The original draft was put together between Jim (Cederburg), James Shields, myself, and Kent (Hadenfeldt),” Ortiz said. “The plan was to convene and discuss the details of this which didn’t happen last night.”

Board member Greg Robinson clarified that the plan was to table this matter and allow the group time to discuss those details with parties from KKB.

“To me this has always been driven by the mayor and city council – this document. I, quite frankly, am not 100 percent sure why it is even on our agenda,” Robinson said. “Even the back page (of the drafted agreement) indicates that it will be signed by the mayor and the Keep Kimball Beautiful board. So as far as this agreement goes, I’m not even sure why it is on our agenda if the mayor and city council are going to handle it.”

Robinson questioned why further discussion would be held by the board of public works, to which the only answer came from Cederburg, and may indicate that the BPW is now in the role of mediator.

“We certainly look forward to continuing discussions and coming up with an agreement that is fair to the city and fair to Keep Kimball Beautiful,” Cederburg stated.

Ortiz later said via email, “Where Keep Kimball Beautiful is provided with considerable financial support from the City from rates collected for the landfill and utilities for the recycle center are paid for by the landfill utility, then the Board of Public Works may consider how it funds KKB and balance the financial support provided with the needs and statutory and regulatory requirements of maintaining the City’s landfill. Any agreement adopted will address the financial support and provide the Board the flexibility to balance landfill rates with maintaining the landfill and support Keep Kimball Beautiful. This is why KKB addressed the Board of Public Works.”

Binod is concerned that KKB in the future will have generate funds separately from the city to fund the recycling program.

“Two dollars was a powerful partnership to the confidence of building recycling in our community... If we do not have the assurance in receiving these funds, the future doesn’t look so bright. The future is all dependent on cash flow. The future is dependent on what our partnerships look like. The future of Keep Kimball Beautiful is in the hands of the public,” Binod said.

 

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