Wind, activity center fees, insurance on council agenda

The purchase of wind energy, changes in fees to use the Wayne Community Activity Center and the amount of an employee's insurance the city will cover were all debated at length during Tuesday's meeting of the Wayne City Council.
After several months of meeting at the Wayne Senior Center, Tuesday's meeting was again held in Council Chambers at City Hall. The remodeling project at City Hall has been substantially completed, allowing the council to use their chambers.
Presentations were given by Bernie Cervera, a consultant with Guernsey, a firm the city has hired to explore options for the purchase of alternative energy and Adam Rickel with NextEra, a firm developing a wind farm known as the Cottonwood Project.
Cervera showed the council maps indicating that the state of Nebraska is "sitting in the best wind-producing area in the country. There is tremendous potential to get the lowest cost for wholesale energy."
Cervera also talked about the city's options for making a decision on the purchase of wind energy, based on the current contract the city has with Big Rivers Energy to purchase energy.
He discussed two companies in Nebraska that have indicated they would be willing to sell wind energy to the city. He also said the city needs to consider developing an electric system market plan for the future.
Rickel told the council that the Cottonwood Project, located in Webster County, is guaranteed to start building this year and said now is a good time to get involved with wind energy because the government is offering production tax credits for every unit produced.
He said his firm, which is based in Florida, is the largest owner/operator of renewable energy in the country.
Council member Jennifer Sievers  said she feels the city needs to "look at all of our options. Power is changing and we shouldn't rush into anything."
No action was taken or decisions were made following the presentations.
Council members also spent a considerable amount of time discussing the fees charged at the Wayne Community Activity Center (CAC).
Different options were discussed with possible financial outcomes for the city if any or all of the options were enacted.
Council member Matt Eischied questioned whether the rates were being raised "just to lose less money or are we offering something extra to the members? We have raised rates each of the last two years and if we keep raising rates, we will lose even more if people leave. We need to stay competitive."
Mayor Ken Chamberlain asked if there were specific rates for those teams who use the CAC who are not members. He felt these fees should be double what members pay, but several council members said they felt if this were the case, the CAC would lose those out-of-town participants.
Also discussed was the fee seniors (either individually or as a couple) pay. The majority of the council felt these rates should remain where they are.
Council member Cale Giese said the CAC loses approximately $160,00 per year, in part because of the increases in minimum wage in recent years.
"Our rates are cheap compared to other places," Giese said.
Following discussion, council members voted to table the issue.
After several meetings worth of discussion, council members voted to amend  the city's share of the group help care premium and offer incentives to those who get an annual physical and are non-tobacco users.
Mayor Chamberlain said he felt the city should be responsible for all costs associated with a physical, including additional tests that are required.
In addition, the city will now pay an extra 7.5 percent of the premium for those who receive a physical and an extra 7.5 percent for those who are non-tobacco users.
The change will take effect on May 1, 2017.
Council members approved the purcahse of a power rake for the Parks Department and accepted a bid for the construction of a metal storage building for the Water/Wastewater Department.
The Wayne City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.

The Wayne Herald

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