E911 Surcharges, Easement Agreement Also on Agenda
SIDNEY - The Cheyenne County Commissioners met for the first time in 2024 on January 2, and items included on the agenda were a surcharge increase for the E911 system, Commissioners Committee appointments and the opening of sealed bids for a motor-grader for the Highway Department.
After re-electing Darrell Johnson and Philip Sanders as President and Vice-Persistent of the Board of Commissioners, and approving the current agenda and the December 18 minutes, the first item on the agenda was reviewing and ratifying Resolution 1994-30 setting E911 surcharges. Since 1994, a $1 per month surcharge has been added on all land lines to help pay for 911 and E911 services. The legislation passed in 1994 states that surcharges can be increased up to 50¢ per month. With the diminishing number of land lines due to the increase in cellular phone usage, a rate increase of 50¢ was requested. Any increase in surcharges would not take effect until January 1, 2025. Commissioner Miller clarified that cellular phones are also subject to this surcharge, however they are collected at the state level and then distributed to the counties. Miller said he was not a fan of the state collecting money then redistributing it back to local governments. It is believed the reason why cellular phone fees are collected at the state level is because many people who have cellular phones do not necessarily live in the county where they are listed. By collecting the surcharge at the state level, it helps ensure the correct disbursements are made by population, rather than from where a carrier's service is listed. Miller directed County Attorney Paul Schaub to send a letter to the legislature to better explain the process. It is estimated that Cheyenne County receives about $4,000 per month in reimbursements from these surcharges, which are mainly used to offset the costs of personnel training and equipment. The commissioners tabled the request to increase the land line surcharge until more information is acquired, but approved the resolution to continue the current $1 per month surcharge on land lines. Miller stated that most land lines are used by businesses in Cheyenne County, and although it seems a small amount to add to the surcharge, he was not in favor of increasing costs on businesses.
The commissioners then went through the yearly process of designating the official newspaper, radio station and county website of Cheyenne County. While designating the Sun-Telegraph as the official newspaper, commissioner Miller said that he was very proud of the improvement in coverage by the Sun-Telegraph over the past year, and both commissioners Johnson and Sanders were in agreement. The Sun-Telegraph will continue in its efforts to bring Cheyenne County residents the most comprehensive coverage of county and city government meetings as possible.
Cheyenne County Fair Board President Troy Kurz then addressed the commissioners over recent elections to the Cheyenne County Fair Board. As per Fair Board by-laws, the board members vote upon retaining or adding board members, and then have the commissioners approve their process. Kurz said that all of the current members have been retained at their positions except for Jason Juracek. The commissioners approved the Fair Board's elections by unanimous vote.
Cheyenne County Treasurer Shelly Bowlin then offered two resolutions, the first to designate the official depositories of Cheyenne County and the second to authorize the treasurer to invest surplus funds in Cheyenne County banks in excess of the amount insured by the FDIC. The resolutions were approved unanimously by the commissioners.
The commissioners then approved an Easement Agreement among Spinner Investments LLC, MKSE Norgard LLC and Cheyenne County for the installation of an 8' x 10' concrete pad to install a glycol unit, walk-in refrigerator condensing unit and HVAC unit for the new Boss Brewery building project on the 1200 block of Jackson Street in Sidney. The matter was discussed at the December 18 commissioner's meeting but tabled until a few minor changes were made to the agreement, and to include the property owner in the agreement. The commissioners approved the easement unanimously.
Cheyenne County Highway Superintendent Doug Hart gave an update on the county roads. He said the recent snowstorm with high winds did not cause much difficulty on the roads, with an exception of drifts in Lodgepole that needed to be cleared. The commissioners said that the storm was a good "dry run" to see where storm fencing would be necessary, as in many areas the rotation of wheat and stubble fields meant that problem places last year were not necessarily going to be in the same areas. The commissioners said that workers should be looking out for problem areas to put up fences in preparation for future snow events. Hart also said that two employees were in the process of getting their CDL certification, and if the county could pick up the $1300 fee for the certification. The commissioners agreed, and the Highway Department had room in their budget to pay for the expense.
The last item on the agenda was the unsealing of bids for a new motor grader for the Highway Department. After much discussion on the bids and the strengths and weaknesses of the particular machines, the commissioners decided to award the bid of one motor grader to Nebraska Machinery for a Caterpillar 12M3 unit. The cost of the unit is $189,500, and is being paid for with remaining American Rescue Plan funds. The commissioners decided not to trade in an older unit to reduce the price of the new unit because they did not believe the trade-in value was high enough, and that the county would most likely need the unit over the winter months, and it would be prudent to have the additional machine on-hand.