Council debates myriad of topics

An Arbor Day proclamation, a Green Team report, a request for additional funding for ambulances services, a re-zoning request, a revolving loan application and discussion on providing funding to Wayne State College for services were among the items discussed during the nearly three hour Wayne City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Mayor Ken Chamberlain began the meeting by reading a proclamation for Arbor Day, which is Friday, April 28. He listed the history of the day and benefits of trees, while encouraging everyone to plant trees in the city.
Sandy Brown, representing the Wayne Green Team, listed the accomplishments of the group in the past year, including collecting 16,000 lbs. of electronics at a recycling event, conducting a Household Hazardous Waste event and recycling 17 tons of glass.
She also shared information with the council on upcoming events connected with Earth Day, including hosting Chamber Coffee, the showing of a food waste movie, installation of blue recycling bins in several Wayne city parks and a fall electronic recycling event.
Brown specifically thanked former Wayne Mayor Lois Shelton for all her work in recycling, both during her terms as mayor and as a member of the Wayne Green Team.
The council spent a considerable amount of time discussing an ambulance service agreement with Providence Medical Center (PMC).
Jim Frank, CEO of PMC, told the council that the hospital is a 501 3C organization and shared information on the hospital, including the number of employees and current projects. He also said the city has had an ambulance agreement with the hospital since the hospital opened. The current contract went into effect in 2007 and requires the city to pay $10,000 per year for services.
"At this point, the hospital is losing $100,000 a year on ambulance service. We are asking the city to increase its contribution to $75,000 per year for the operation of an ambulance service or we will no longer be able to provide the service," Frank said.
Considerable discussion was held on other funding options, including the billing for services through insurance and what percentage of the costs of the service may be the responsibility of the Rural Fire Board.
It was noted that 87 percent of calls in the last two fiscal years were within the city and 13 percent of calls were outside city limits.
Mayor Ken Chamberlain said the city has a legal obligation to provide ambulance services for its residents.
Randy Larson, representing the Wayne County Board of Commissioners said that while the Commissioners cannot give money to the hospital for the service, they would be able to discuss a request from the Rural Fire Board for additional funding.
Council members said that the $10,000 per year request has not really changed in 40 years and "we have been very naive to think we could have this service for 40 years without an increase."
Additional discussion will take place between the hospital, the Rural Fire Board and the council in coming weeks.
Council members approved an ordinance to amend the city's zoning map. The three readings of the ordinance were waived and the ordinance was finally passed.
The Wayne Event Center asked the council to rezone a 650 foot parcel of land north of the golf course to build and operate an event center.
Following the passage of the ordinance, the council approved a plan to extend water and sewer services to the area.
Steve Rames with McLaury Engineering Services, presented two options to the city and explained each.  The first would benefit 110 acres of land in the area. He noted that the second, which would cost approximately $362,000, would benefit 146 acres of land and allow for future growth on the north side of 21st Street. A portion of this cost would be allocated to the Beaumont Event Center.
Following discussion, council members voted unanimously to move forward with the second option.
A revolving loan application from Wayne Sport & Spine in the amount of $70,000 was approved.
Jeff Christiansen with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District told the council a committee had approved the request as a 10 year loan at 4.5 percent interest.
The total cost of the project is $290,000 and Christiansen explained where the remainder of the funding will come from, including money from Wayne Area Economic Development.
Several council members expressed concerns about the risk the city is taking with the loan. They were assured there is adequate collateral to cover the project.
Also taking considerable time during the council meeting was discussion on an item that came out of the council annual retreat earlier this year.
Council members are working toward an agreement with Wayne State College in which the city would provide funding toward the Center for Applied Technology building to be constructed on the WSC campus.
Dr. Marysz Rames, WSC President, spoke to the council and said she is "excited about the project for both the college and the community."
She listed a number of ways the facility would be used, including instructing teachers for a Career Academy, non-teachers going into manufacturing careers and hosting events to demonstrate career opportunities.
Most of the discussion centered on what the city would receive in return for its investment, which includes internet services, the opportunity to use WSC facilities and the possibility of allowing Wayne city employees the opportunity to take WSC classes to enhance their job skills.
Following the discussion, council members voted to table the passage of the resolution until the next meeting.
Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

The Wayne Herald

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