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

Council takes a look at local businesses, approves new name for an often overlooked grant


Local business matters were discussed at length during the June 20 Kimball City Council meeting, beginning with a unanimous vote to rename the Main Street Design and Improvement Grant to the Kimball Business Facade Improvement Grant at their June 20 meeting, a request from City of Kimball’s Special Projects Coordinator Amy Sapp.

“As we go through the leadership certified status and we possibly focus more on main street, I wanted to separate the two,” Sapp said. “Most of the communities in our area use Business Facade Improvement Grant.”

Sapp explained that the move could also reduce confusion regarding who can apply for the grant funds. Currently many businesses believe that the money is solely for “Main Street” storefronts. In reality, the grant funds are for any business located within Kimball’s corporate limits.

One main street business, the long-closed Longhorn building, has been deemed hazardous. An environmental report states that the building contains dangerous black mold as well as asbestos and a structural review was attempted, though the engineer did not have permission to enter the building.

He did state that it is uninhabitable,” Dean said. “We can proceed with a legal course of action requiring the trust to abate the hazards. In my opinion, it would take several months to complete that.”

The City of Kimball has issued abatement orders for the building, but no measures were taken to remedy the concerns.

“The owner passed away a few months ago and it is in a trust now. The trustees have no interest in the building,” Dean said. “I bring this with some trepidation to the council because it is not something I am trilled about.”

Legal action is expected to be costly and time consuming, but the trustees have offered to release the building to the City of Kimball. Unpaid taxes, totaling $2,000 – which the trustees are not interested in paying, are also due, and would become the City’s responsibility if they accept the building.

“If we vote to do this, we do have to have a public hearing,” Dean said. “The terms would be that we would not pay any money, but we would assume all liability, which could include remediation and demolition.”

Council members agreed that they need to know the full extent of cost and liability prior to relieving the trustees of the problem. They asked for additional information regarding disposal of the hazardous material and protecting neighboring businesses in the case of demolition.

“I think the Perry’s need to have a little more accountability here too,” council member Kim Baliman said.

“How frustrating is this? The fact that this business was a viable business for years, with multiple owners in there and this is where it is at, that we have to clean it up because the owners failed to take some responsibility for this project and now the tax payers are on the hook for it,” council member James Shields said.

Additionally, council considered Sapp’s request to create a Business Infrastructure Improvement Loan Program as well.

“I searched what some of the communities in the Panhandle are doing as far as incentives, and they are not doing much different than we are,” Sapp said. “Based off some business retention and expansion visits and discussions a huge issue that has been brought up is the infrastructure.”

Buildings for sale in Kimball are in need of updated electrical and plumbing or remedies for anything that fire marshals and health and safety personnel might flag.

Sapp offered a draft for a forgivable loan program offered for commercially zoned properties within Kimball. The draft includes a $5,000 loan limit with a four percent interest rate – the lowest allowed, for five years.

At the maximum, the loan payments would reach $92 and after on time payments for the first half of the loan, the remainder would be forgiven.

“Some examples of things I would foresee it being used for: daycare facility needs fire suppression system, a local business had a USDA energy audit and found they need updated electrical or a business that needs an ADA approved bathroom.”

As opposed to a grant, this process would allow potential new businesses immediate funds to address infrastructure needs, and would be meant to compliment a conventional bank loan, not replace it.

“To me, it’s more to get somebody to come in and be able to buy a building because the buildings weren’t taken care of,” council member James Schnell said.

Council asked Sapp to amend the draft and present it once again at the next council meeting, scheduled for July 18 at 6 p.m.


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