Energy costs, mask mandate debated during council meeting


Energy costs, mask mandate debated during council meeting



The cost of electricity during last month's cold weather  and the issue of continuing the city's mask mandate (see separate story on the website) were among the items discussed during Tuesday's meeting of the Wayne City Council.

While the bills for the energy used by the city haven't been received yet, these numbers could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Jeff Triggs, with the Electric Production Department, told the council that the city generated electricity for a total of 98 hours during the week of Feb. 15.

"It cost a lot to generate, but we saved the city a ton of money by not having to buy off the grid," Triggs said.

Discussion was held on how to recover the costs associated with the increases.

Possibilities included billing customers directly for the costs, allowing several months to pay these bills or using money from the Electric Fund reserves.

Additional information should be available to the council by the next meeting and more discussion will take place at that time.

During Tuesday's meeting, council members approved the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority  Application for a Housing Grant Study.

The last housing study was completed in December of 2016. However, recent changes to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) laws change what costs and uses are allowed with this type of financing. The changes also require that a housing study be no older than 24 months.

The agreement will allow the city to move forward with the grant application for 50 percent ($8,000) of the costs of the study. City staff estimates that the study will take approximately four months to complete.

Resolutions accepting the water/sanitary / storm sewer and paving improvements in both the Angel Acres Addition and Southview II Addition were approved. 

These utilities were installed by the developer and are maintained by the city. However, they were not formally accepted by the council.

In other action, the council approved a request for a fireworks display on Friday, July 9 in conjunction with Henoween activities. The fireworks will be lit on the rugby fields near the Summer Sports Complex.

The council took action to move forward with the advertising for bids for the dirt work for the "Old City of Wayne Lagoon Berm Project - Phase I."

Resolution 2021 was approved. It approves an agreement for professional services from JEO Consulting Group, Inc. for engineering services for the Centennial Road Improvements, 14th to 21st Street Project.

Jon Mooberry with JEO was at the meeting to explain the details of the project, including the width of streets included in the project, the costs for the different parts and the time frame for the work to be completed.

Approval was given to submit the Wayne Senior Center's fiscal year 2021 detailed plan of operation and budget to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging.

Senior Center Coordinator Diane Bertrand was at the meeting and told the council that while the center is not open to the public for social activities, "we never stopped the food service and are currently serving approximately 70 people per day."

A resolution adopting the City of Wayne Employee Personnel Manual was approved after discussion on the employee retirement contribution portion of the manual.

Council members agreed to include information in the manual that allows an employee to contribute up to seven percent of their wages into a retirement account, with the city matching that amount.

Also approved during the meeting was Resolution 2021-17, which identifies the city goals for the current year and into the future.

Among the items on the list are researching options and timelines for additional sales tax, planning for upgrades at the Community Activity Center, discussion of additional renewable energy opportunities, helping businesses affected by COVID-19 and continue discussion on investing in downtown housing, town centers and meeting places.

The Wayne City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wayne Community Activity Center.