SIDNEY--On Tuesday, January 9, the City of Sidney Council met to discuss a variety of topics, with the use of funds from the 1/2 cent sales tax increase for infrastructure projects in the forefront. Before that discussion, Mayor Brad Sherman read a proclamation designating January as Radon Action Month, and urged residents to take advantage of Panhandle Public Health's free radon test kits to ensure everyone's homes are free from the dangers of radon. Radon is not visible and does not have any odor, but it is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the United States. Exposure to radon is preventable, and all residents are urged to test their homes to see if they are being exposed to dangerous levels of radon. For more information call (308) 487-3600.
Next up, Melissa and Stan Norgard addressed the council, requesting to transfer their Liquor Licenses from their current facility, Sam & Louie's/Boss City Brewing, to their new facility, Boss City Brewing on the 1200 block of Jackson Street in Sidney, starting on February 1, 2024. The new facility will seat 130 people, have 12 taps and is scheduled to open on March 1. The council unanimously approved the request.
Then the Historic Board request to approve the re-appointment of current member John Phillips, was unanimously approved.
City Manager David Scott then addressed the council concerning the resurfacing project on Forrest Street between 17th St. and 21st St., on the North Side of Sidney. The resurfacing project would be a curb-to-curb resurfacing and would add and repair sidewalks where necessary. Scott noted that the project had been discussed as part of the City's "One and Six" street priority list at previous city council meetings, and was included as one of the projects to be funded by the one half cent sales tax approved by voters in 2022. It would also be paid for by a portion of State Highway Allocation money that Sidney had not used. Scott said that cost estimates by engineers for the project, amount to around $1.5 million dollars with a $109,546 inspection fee. Scott recommended the council move forward with bids for the project, and also to have the engineers review and advise on the bids to help remove any bias concerning favoritism towards local bidders in the process. The council unanimously approved moving forward with bids for the project.
Scott continued and cited other projects to be funded using the one half cent sales tax approved by voters in 2022. He named renovations at Memorial Gardens, parking lot surfacing at the Sidney Aquatic Center and connecting sidewalks between the Aquatic Center and trails in the area to keep children off the streets while walking to or from the Aquatic Center. These projects were identified as potential uses of the one half cent sales tax bill, and have been considered at city council and planning meetings. Also discussed was a paving project for the parking lot at Hillside Golf Course. The council discussed a 10-year bond being used to pay for the projects, with the proceeds of the one half cent sales tax increase being used to pay back the bond. Mayor Brad Sherman said this would be the second 10 year bond issued off of the one half cent sales tax increase, which was initially ratified 10 years ago. The projects considered would be of significantly lower cost than the projects funded from the first 10 year bond. Mayor Sherman noted that Sidney has an A+ bond rating due to proper debt servicing, and that the city has had a good experience with this type of financing instrument. David Scott noted that having these projects move forward at the same time would increase the chances of bidders accepting work on multiple projects, which would significantly lower costs for the City of Sidney.
Councilman Brock Buckner asked Scott about other projects, such as a park revitalization on the North side of Sidney. Scott said that the project has been in discussion, and that he was a "big fan" of the proposed project. He noted that it would be best to fix the street in the area first, and then work on the park revitalization project.
Tom VonSeggern then informed the council the parks Department would be removing the geese population from legion Park and the ball field areas by using "whizz-bang" pistols to scare off the birds. The geese are causing problems with the ecology of the area, and need to be moved off of the pond and ball field areas. VonSeggern was telling the councilmen about the plan so they would be able to inform the proper authorities about what was going on if they received calls from residents about the noises generated by the pyrotechnic guns. VonSeggern noted that the guns would be fired off at certain times regularly, and then with decreasing frequency as the birds learned to stay away from the area.