The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Answering The Call

Sidney City Council Approves Emergency Response Agreement


Prairie fires and floods are nothing new to the plains of western Nebraska, northeast Colorado and eastern Wyoming. Neither is a neighbor coming to the aid when nature strikes with a fury.

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief LaVern Bown presented the Sidney City Council a mutual aid agreement involving departments from Crook, CO., to as far northwest as Harrisburg, NE.

The Tri-State Mutual Aid Association Interlocal Agreement is “for the purpose of better ensuring the safety of the lives and property of our citizens from fire loss, medical emergencies and natural disasters,” according to the memorandum presented by Bown.

He said the Association is being established with departments along or adjacent to the Interstate 80 corridor. He added that he doesn't foresee City equipment being provided to other members unless they are local and presented with an highly unusual circumstance.

He said the mutual aid agreement primarily affects the Sidney Rural Fire Department. The agreement calls for the use of personnel, equipment and resources as needed when a department within the Interlocal Agreement is in need.

“In practice, this is what we've been doing,” said Sidney Mayor Roger Gallaway.

Bown cited the example of a fire near Lodgepole in 2020 when several area fire departments responded.

In other business, Kasey Kantor, Sidney Transportation Director, presented the council with a resolution for local match funding to 5311 Funding Application for Public Transportation Assistance for July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The City's transportation program has a budget of $642,000 with a projected revenue of $25,000, leaving deficit of $617,000. Kantor's report shows the deficit qualifies the City for $463,000 in Federal funding, $77,000 in State funding and the City needing $77,000 in local funding.

The Sidney Dial-A-Ride operates two passenger busses 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, charging $1.25 per ride. Almost a year ago, the city council agreed to discontinue the fixed route “Stageline” bus service to help reduce the numbers on a bus at any given time as an effort to help protect the community and bus drivers. In October, the Stageline was permanently removed from the city.

The Dial-A-Ride program has shown steady riders monthly since removal of the Stageline, Kantor reported. Dial-A-Ride uses a computer system funded by the CARES act, sending ride requests to tablet computers in the busses.

“With the introduction of new software to help create better communications, customer tracking, and other information our efficiency should see positive growth of customer service and driver assistance,” Kantor said in the proposal.

The council approved the transportation budget with a 5-0 vote.

The council also received and approved the City's annual audit by Rauner & Associates. The audit is for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. The audit shows under Government Activities that total assets increased by $108,016, or .19 percent; expenses decreased by $274.426 or 2.77 percent; and revenue decreased by $1,393,188 or 12.19 percent. In Business-Type Activities, total assets decreased by $959,509 or 1.80 percent; expenses decreased by $200,943 or 1.48 percent; revenues increased by $265,943 or 1.83 percent; and Charges for Services increased by $159,053 or 1.15 percent. The City was given a “clean opinion,” meaning no deficiencies.

The City was also the recipient of a $31,699 from the ACE Public Alliance for Community Energy. Mike Palmer, the City's Electricity Superintendent, serves on the ACE board of directors. In the Feb. 23 meeting of the city council, Palmer said the ACE board of directors decided in its January meeting to distribute $400,000 to its members. Sidney's share of the $400,000 is $31,699.


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