Park closings, water and sewer rates highlight council meeting
Two park areas in the city of Wayne will be closed at night following a vote cast by Wayne Mayor Jill Brodersen at the Oct. 2 meeting of the Wayne City Council.
Council members again debated whether to place closing hours on all parks in the city, just selected parks or have no park closings at all.
Council member Jason Karsky read a prepared statement expressing his opinion on the park closings.
He said that while he agreed with the closing of the Summer Sports Complex/Rugby Field and the Hank Overin Baseball Complex, he felt it should be "all or nothing" in regard to the parks in the city of Wayne.
"I would like to treat all parks equally and give law enforcement officers the ability to do their jobs," Karsky told the council.
Council member Cale Giese, who introduced the language into the ordinance to have set hours at the two areas indicated, said that he felt that if future data indicates activity taking place in parks in the city, the issue could be re-visited.
Council member Matt Eischeid said he agreed with having an "all or nothing" ordinance and said it was the city's responsibility to provide a safe community for residents.
Police Chief Marlen Chinn said that having closing hours for the parks would give officers the right to approach those in the parks after the park is closed.
Mayor Brodersen said the wording on the current ordinance "is a start and we can adjust. This may be an evolving ordinance."
During the vote, Council members Jason Karsky, Matt Eischeid, Rod Greve and Jennifer Sievers voted against the current language and Council members Nick Muir, Terri Buck, Jon Haase and Cale Giese voted in favor. Mayor Brodersen broke the tie by voting in favor of the current language. This means the Summer Sports area and the Hank Overin baseball complex will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.
Council members listened to a presentation from Randy Hellbusch with the Nebraska Rural Water Association on the water and sewer rate study recently completed.
Hellbusch thanked the city for its membership in the association for more than 30 years and said a number of communities are looking at the rates they are charging for these services.
He explained the income and expenses for the water department, including an annual contribution of $150,000 to the sewer department. He talked about the possibility of the city installing a new transmission line and drilling a new well.
The last water rate increase for the city of Wayne was in October of 2015 and Hellbusch said the felt that "it is easier for the public to handle several smaller increases over a three-year period, rather than one large rate increase."
He proposed raising the water rates from the current $16 per month service charge and $1.60 for each 1,000 gallons of usage to $20 per month service charge and $1.75 for each 1,000 gallons. This is expected to result in an increase of $5 to $6 per month in the water bill for the average customer.
In regard to the sewer rates, Hellbusch told the council the rate study indicated that the past year was an expensive one for the city because of the addition of equipment and the city has "tremendous debt because of the new plant. At the present time, you are not keeping up with expenses and not where you need to be."
He proposed the city raise sewer rates from the current $8 per month service plus $6.35 for each 1,000 gallons used to $10 per month service charge and $7.62 per 1,000 gallons used.
Sewer rates were last raised in April of 2016.
City staff was directed to move forward in preparing the necessary documents to implement these increases.
Council members gave third reading approval to an ordinance that will allow for the installation of fences on private property up to eight feet in height. The property owner would need to provide the city with documentation on the need for the increased height of the fence.
Approval was given for a change order on the "Second Street Storm Sewer Improvement Project" in the amount of $19,616.00 and an increase of 10 plus days for substantial completion of the project. The additional cost comes from the fact that additional quantities of materials are needed for completion.
Chris Woeher with Robert Woehler & Sons Construction spoke to the council and said that a gas line had just been found under the alley and needs to be dealt with before the project can move forward. This is expected to take an additional week.
A resolution was passed accepting the bid from Grossenburg Implement for $22,200 for the purchase of a John Deere 4066M Compact Utility Tractor.
The Wayne City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.