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Council Summaries - July 2 and 16, 2024

Individuals and media outlets are encouraged to contact the City Administrator for additional details or clarification on the following material. Regular meetings of the Crete City Council are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall; Council Standing Committees may meet prior. View a list of City Officials and current council and committee meeting agendas.

 

The next Crete City Council regular meeting will be on Tuesday, Aug. 6. 

 

Summary for Crete City Council special meeting - Tuesday, July 16
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments.

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council July 2, Legislative and Economic Development Committee July 2, Parks and Recreation Committee July 2, Public Safety Committee July 2
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Payment of claims against the City
  • Approve Jordan Kwiatkowski, Dalton Steelman, Jeff Downs, Ethan Henrichs, Matthew Bakker and Elijah Clarke as new volunteer members of the Fire Department
  • Mayor's Appointment of Dennis Bargman to the Housing Authority

The Council held a Public Hearing on the Class I Liquor License Application from Blue River Arts Council, Inc. BRAC Executive Director Shaylene Smith said they are applying for this license for special events only, not regular showtimes, at the Isis Theatre. A soft opening date has been set for July 26.

The voted 6-0 to approve the Class I Liquor License Application from the Blue River Arts Council, Inc. Mayor Dave Bauer said the council approves a recommendation to pass on to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.

The Council held a Public Hearing on a Blighted and Substandard Declaration of the downtown area. City Administrator Tom Ourada explained the Planning Commission and council voted on this designation, to create a Redevelopment District, ten years ago for the downtown area. The Blight designation stays until removed by Council action, but for the purposes of NDED (Nebraska Department of Economic Development) it expires after 10 years. In order to apply for the next round of DTR (downtown revitalization) funding the designation has to be renewed for the area to qualify for funding.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve Resolution 2024-10 Blighted Area Re-designation.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Tobacco License Application from Smokin' Liquor LLC.

The Council voted 5-0 (Fitzgerald abstained) to approve Pine Ridge 3rd Addition Preliminary Plat. Ourada said this plat involves shortening the street, moving the cul-de-sac, and lot line changes; had the changes only involved three lots instead of four, an administrative subdivision would have been possible; the developer had to make a new plat instead since it involved four lots. This was recommended by the Planning Commission and Public Works Committee.

The Council voted 5-0 (Fitzgerald abstained) Pine Ridge 3rd Addition Final Plat. Ourada explained it’s not unusual for these plats, preliminary and final, to be done and ready simultaneously for council action.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete Police Department applying for fiscal year 24/25 Special Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEP) grant Police Chief Gary Young said this grant usually involves activities such as Click or Ticket and drunk driving prevention campaigns, but also allows the department to promote community safety messages at community events by helping cover overtime hours; the application is for $91,000 in grant funds for the next year.

The Council voted 5-0 (Papik abstained) to approve approving payment of claims to Crete Ace Hardware in the amount of $1,881.42.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Old Main Bar and Grill LB840 Reimbursement. Ourada said this downtown business recently had a fire, however their reimbursable expenses occurred before the fire; the owners do intend on rebuilding and reopening the restaurant.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve Resolution 2024-11 Gap Paving Assessment Hearing. City Attorney Anna Burge said this relates to 2022 gap paving projects and a public hearing with the Board of Equalization will be set for Aug. 20 for property owners impacted by gap paving assessments.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2209 amending the sale of tobacco to 21. Burge explained the state legislature passed this in 2020 and city code should be in step with state law.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve CDBG grant for 2024-2025 gap and petition paving. Ourada explained Crete recently became eligible for Community Development Block Grants due to a change in the community’s LMI designation (low to moderate income). The city typically looks for grants for projects and he suggested to the Public Works Committee that the city apply for this to offset some of the costs of upcoming gap and petition paving projects.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve JEO gap paving engineering proposal. Ourada said JEO submitted for design, engineering, and administrative work; he has talked with them about these higher costs.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete Isis Phase 2 COR# 07 in the amount of $565.00. Smith gave current project financials and said they greatly appreciated help from the city’s Public Works crews on seat installation. These change orders (three separate agenda items) were replacements or fixes for materials and fire marshal changes.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete Isis Phase 2 COR #08 in the amount of $879.00.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete Isis CO#09 in the amount of $406.00.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2210 amending to prohibit deposit returns for delinquent accounts. Ourada explained this change is due to the ordinance which allows deposits to be returned regardless of delinquency of account status; people with delinquent accounts that have had their deposits returned then have had to replace the deposit after being delinquent and disconnection throughout a two-year period. The policy will now allow only one delinquent account status within two years to return the deposit.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete Carrier Room Grant for the Southern 7 Association meeting. Ourada said City Clerk Nancy Tellez will host a regular meeting with her regional clerks group and he encouraged her to apply for this mini grant to use the community room because it will be a community benefit. He said having out of town clerks visit Crete and pay to eat here and share experiences with our clerk is a benefit and aligns with the intent of the mini grants.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the SE24-04 for the 4-H and Open Archery Contest. Ourada explained the Saline County Fair Board wanted to hold this in the area and during the time of regular kart races; they have since altered their area and direction of archery events and their insurance policy has been confirmed.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Crete 20DTR002 Extension. Ourada said this is the third and final extension allowed and will change from an August deadline to October to complete projects still open and use up all grant funding available. The city also can’t reapply for a new round of DTR (downtown revitalization) funding with open DTR grant projects.

Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern:

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

  • Gary Young, Police Chief:
    • the Saline County Fair has increased activity and traffic in Tuxedo Park, as well as some other challenges; the Friday night concert will utilize some highway safety grant funding for another officer on duty;
    • question from the Mayor on permitted UTVs and prohibited recreational vehicle use in town; allowable UTV’s are registered at the city clerk’s office; the Mayor has noticed a lot of these vehicles and said he worried people don’t have all the information on what types of vehicles are allowed on city streets with permits;
    • Young said they are finding mini bikes, four wheelers, three wheelers, etc. and it’s a concern;
  • Jessica Wilkinson, Library Director:
    • handed out a monthly report with program stats, upcoming library programs, etc. 
    • three new patron computers are in place and new staff computers will be coming with funding help from the Friends of Crete Public Library;
    • the library had no water for a brief period to replace heads on the soft water system in the building.
  • James Yost, Assistant Fire Chief:
    • six new members were introduced and this is the most at a time in his memory; all live in the district, bringing membership to 42 total members (38 who live in the fire district and 4 associate members); the membership includes 6 paramedics; new members are: Jordan Kwiatkowski, Dalton Steelman, Jeff Downs, who is a nurse practitioner, Ethan Henrichs, Elijah Clarke, and Matthew Bakker, who is coming back on after a break and has maintained his EMT certification;
    • the department’s annual bbq and raffle is this Saturday (July 20) at the Saline County Fair, next to the softball concession stand on the way to the rodeo arena;
    • pump testing of apparatus is today (Tuesday) and Wednesday - an outside company comes in to test specifications on five trucks at a cost of $250 per truck;
    • the department responded to a fire on Doane Drive on Sunday (July 14); it was limited to the attached garage and one firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion as a precaution and is doing well;
    • we are getting the Gary Sinise Foundation grant ready - hoping to replace 17-year-old rescue air bags for a total of $8,900;
  • Liz Cody, Parks and Recreation Director: 
    • the inflation reduction act funding has provided for community forestry activities; the city and Crete Public School applications were 2 of 5 approved; this is a great start to tree work; a U.S. Forest Service intern is working on adding parks to the tree database with 1,000 logged in so far;
    • July 19 is the Coed softball registration deadline;
    • we have interviewed a candidate for groundskeeper;
    • pool staff would like to look at keeping the pool open past Aug. 4; there are back-to-school groups asking to have events at the pool between Aug. 5-10 as well;
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • After his recommendation, the public works committee made a motion to not put the East 15th Street project back on the 1 and 6 year street improvement plan; the city sent two letters to property owners along the proposed route and the 19 residents he heard back from were opposed to a potential cost assessment plan; he suggested to scrap the proposed project in its current form and research other ways to take on the needs of the street improvement; not all of East 15th Street between Boswell and Iris is in equally bad condition but there are very few sidewalks along there; the next budget cycle should allow the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to be available and he will work with the committee to move forward;
    • the city’s electric load has not peaked yet and water usage is stable -we are not near capacity yet;
    • the west solar farm construction work is starting soon and the city’s new west water well should also start soon;
    • he met with city department heads on a budget discussion and presented the Finance Committee with current and projected budget data tonight to aid them in planning the next year’s needs;
    • water well repairs at 13th and Iris took about two weeks and it is back to capacity;
    • the mayor wants to move forward on a proposed September community event;
  • Mayor Dave Bauer welcomed the six new firefighters and said they are joining a good department and will learn a lot from the people there.

Meeting adjourned.

 

Summary for Crete City Council special meeting - Tuesday, July 2
View this Meeting Agenda and attachments.

The council approved the Consent Agenda items:

  • Minutes of the following meetings: City Council Special Meeting June 26
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Payment of claims against the City 

The Council held a Public Hearing on Ordinance 2207 Adding Garage Sale Imitations to the City Code. 

  • City Administrator Tom Ourada explained the city has looked at this in past years and has received a number of complaints again this year. He talked with Mayor Dave Bauer about properties that seem to have a number of garage sales and cause congestion in neighborhoods. The Mayor has heard similar complaints. Based on this, the City crafted an amended ordinance based on what other cities had done. The Planning Commission saw this and requested it be changed from one sale every two months and six times per year to no more than 1 garage sale in a 4-month period or 3 in a 12-month period; each sale should be no more than 3 days in length and “sales should not include resale of new merchandise in quantities such that a reasonable person would assume the merchandise was purchased specifically for resale at the garage sale.”
  • Mayor Bauer clarified the intent is not to pick on people having garage sales, however complaints were about non-typical sales that looked like department store sales and sale frequency.
  • Ourada said this ordinance will be enforced on a complaint basis and is also tied to next agenda item. Complaints about more than one sale in a four-month period will be dealt with through the city attorney’s office as an ordinance violation.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2207 Adding Garage Sale Limitations to the City Code. 

The Council held a Public Hearing on Ordinance 2208 Amending Temporary Signs. 

  • Ourada explained this asks to amend the temporary sign portion of the city’s sign code, specifically garage sale signs placed no more than 2 days before the sale and removed no more than 2 days after, for a total of 7 days with a 3-day sale limit in between. This was requested by the mayor and has been a complaint from community members over the years. The Planning Commission also heard this and had some questions answered about enforcement, etc. City employees can take down signs in violation at a cost charged to the person having the sale; the Planning Commission approval was unanimous.
  • Mayor Bauer said if the city continues to have problems with enforcement of these garage sale ordinances, it’s possible we could discuss a permit process for garage sales, but we are not there yet. The problem is all around town and noticeable in areas of heavy traffic; people also don’t take their signs down, place them on public property, some use lots of tape, etc. on city poles, and some signs are placed in the bump outs on Main Street, which is not allowed. We don’t want to go to a permit process.
  • Ourada said sale signs and campaign signs are not legal in the city right-of-way or on other people’s property without permission; where there are observations or complaints currently about these situations we go and take them down. City code states signs can’t be put on city poles. 
  • Council member Anthony Fitzgerald asked about creating a brochure promoting this information similar to other materials from the Building Inspector and Public Works offices.
  • Council member Dan Papik asked about businesses putting signs in public right-of-way; Ourada said it’s not legal and we would instruct businesses about proper compliance.
  • Ourada said the city would bill for an hour’s worth of employees time to take signs down. Unrelated to this is a variety of people in town are cooking items from home and selling them; the state has made it known to the city that we have to enforce sales tax on those situations by state law; some people are asking the city how they do that, some are not. The city does’t enforce health department regulations but we have to make them aware they have to follow health regulations as well as charging for, and remitting sales tax.

The Council voted 6-0 to waive three readings and adopt Ordinance 2208 Amending Temporary Signs.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Southeast Nebraska Development District invoice in the amount of $6,630.00. Ourada explained this is the annual membership renewal and it is brought to the council to decide if it’s valuable to the city each year. Fitzgerald said he has worked with this organization and it is a great value for grant writing abilities alone.

The Council voted 6-0 to authorize the Crete Fire Department to apply for the Gary Sinise Foundation Grant. Fire Chief Tod Allen spoke to the Public Safety Committee meeting prior and explained this grant could help fund airbag replacements; there are no matching funds required.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve Jack Cochnar's amendment to the Downtown Revitalization Program  application for 142 West 13th Street. Ourada explained the request notes an additional $5,509 toward the project for a total of $65,030; the council capped projects at $50,000 for 80% of total project. The program had some projects bow out which enabled the city to direct more money to some projects.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Saline County Ag Society Agreement. 

  • City Attorney Anna Burge explained the final draft of the new lease for the Saline County Ag Society’s use of Tuxedo Park with multiple buildings and activities during county fair week. Major changes include the process if the contract is terminated: they had asked for an 18-month term to move buildings, which was changed to a 12-month term; a new clause states that if after 11 months the ag society can’t move buildings, they need to ask for council approval for an extension with a specific request proving their due diligence. Another change is adding a $1,000 fee per year to the lease or the ag society can prove in-kind services at Tuxedo Park to account for funds. In negotiations it was noted that other ag societies own the land their buildings are on while the Saline County Ag Society does’t have to maintain the park spaces with snow removal, trees, roads, additional maintenance, etc.
  • Ashley Newmyer, Parks and Recreation Committee chair, said they appreciate all the work that went into these negotiations and final agreement.
  • Mayor Bauer thanked Anna for her work on this.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Application for Special Event Permit  SE 24-02 from the Nebraska Extension 4-H for the BB Gun Show and Junior Trapshoot. This county fair event was approved contingent on the city being named an additional insured on the certificate of liability insurance.

The Council voted 6-0 to approve the Application for Prohibited Animal Exception PA24-02 from Nebraska Extension 4-H. This county fair event was approved contingent on the city being named an additional insured on the certificate of liability insurance.

Petition - Communication - Citizen Concern:

Officer Reports:

Reports may be given by Officers, Departments, Committees, or Council members concerning the current operations of the City. No action can be taken on matters presented under this title except to answer any questions or to refer the matter for further action.

  • Jessica Wilkinson, Library Director:
    • book sale started July 1; materials are from weeding the library collection; 
    • Summer Reading Kickoff was Saturday with 100 kids in attendance for activities;
    • she has agreed to an overnight lock-in for youth patrons in August with Youth Librarian Marisa Vasquez ;
  • Gary Young, Police Chief:
    • he will have a grant application from the Department of Highway Safety for the next meeting; last year PD received over $75,000 toward overtime on traffic enforcement activities; they leveraged that into additional officers on duty when short-handed and got more people on the road; they will ask for more funds this year;
    • he read a statement on the June 28 shooting incident on Crestline Drive, plus additional notes: 
      • new officer-in-training Jaden Acevedo came home for the weekend from the academy in Grand Island and immediately jumped in at the station to help interview and interpret, help with kids for interviews, as well as coloring, and playing games with the kids;
      • when I came up to the house one firefighter/EMTs was coming out of the house covered in blood - he was one of first there with officers when the scene wasn’t safe yet, but he went in - that is the quality of people you have volunteering with the city and I am very proud to have them working with us. Everyone really stepped up.
      • they have been busy with media requests and have had great support from local folks; Marilyn Schacht with the Community Assistance Office has been wonderful in helping the victims and organizations have been contacting to help;
      • Mayor Bauer has been helping and talked with the family involved;
      • the community has responded well to the needs of the family and they have all been released from the hospital;
    • Mayor Bauer said we are never expecting something like this to happen, but this is an example that our police department responded like they are supposed to, as well as the fire department. They started taking victims from the scene that had not been secured because it was needed. We are thankful for the rest of the help from other communities - you get that help from all over. We are now trying to get back to normal and reassuring people that Crete is a safe place to live. This was a case of a grouchy old man who did this and not a reflection of any group. The family had some questions of me and the city and wanted answers; they talked with Gary as well and wanted reassurance. I wanted them to know they weren’t out there by the themselves, that there were a lot of people out here to support them.
  • Tom Crisman, Council Member Ward 2, thanked the departments involved.
  • Ashley Newmyer, Council Member Ward 3, said it was really impressive how quickly they all worked together.
  • Dale Strehle, Council Member Ward 2, said he would stand Crete PD and CVFD against any in the state and thanked them for what they've done and prays for healing for the families involved. “It really bothered me like it did a lot of people.”
  • Dan Papik, Council Member Ward 1, said there are a lot of great people in our community.
  • Anthony Fitzgerald, Council Member Ward 1, said it was amazing to see the response from the departments and that they should get credit for making sure the truth is told. The departments do make this community safe and that will help the family through this.
  • Tom Ourada, City Administrator:
    • budget notes - municipal equalization will go down, about $6,300; the city will have constraints and we don’t know what it will look like specifically; this will be Wendy’s first year with the budget and we will start putting it together with department heads;
    • East 15th Street - the city sent out letters to property owners on this street to inform them about a potential reconstruction project and funding plans; a second letter went out clarifying this has not been decided yet and the city is considering funding possibilities; if there is enough opposition we will not do it in this form; he noted that today SENDD notified staff that the city's LMI (low- and moderate income) designation changed, meaning East 15th street could qualify for a block grant, maybe up to $450,000; we are trying to keep everyone informed;
    • there will be a ground-breaking on Hawthorne property sold to a local developer, who will not be using TIF (tax increment financing) or LB840 economic development;
    • Crestline incident - all city assets were working with other departments and acted on the emergency operations plan; we all train to different levels on different things; Police and Fire were very dialed in; they train internally and externally with other agencies. Gary was in contact with me frequently, I asked him if he needed more city assets to which we mobilized the Street Department for barricades; the mayor also appreciated knowing the situation in real time; people speculated on the shooter’s motive and we know this person didn’t like anybody according to his history in the neighborhood;
      • a lot of people are offering resources; I’ve talked with the mayor, City Clerk Nancy Tellez, and Community Assistance Director Marilyn Schacht; the annual back to school event in August will not happen at Doane this year, but I thought we might still do this and talked with Marilyn, Nancy, and Officer Dawn Jonas about how to make this work; we have talked that maybe during welcoming week in September at Tuxedo Park would be better with community participation in the planning and involvement in the event; we want to capitalize on the good in Crete and make 2024 known for that to move forward;
  • Mayor Dave Bauer:
    • the back to school picnic was always very big and to get more community people involved would show we are all here as a community;
    • I ask everybody to remember that we are a good community and a good place to live.

Meeting adjourned.