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County approves interlocal agreement
June 20, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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A revised interlocal agreement to help pay expenses for the county’s emergency communications center was unanimously approved by Scotts Bluff County Commissioners.

Ray Richards, 911 communications director for the county, said the new interlocal agreement and a cover letter will be sent to the county’s 10 cities, towns and villages for their approval. Each community’s contribution to the center’s operation is based on population, with Scottsbluff, Gering and the county paying the largest share. This year’s funding formula remains the same.

“Some of the communities objected to their assessment last year because we were late in getting the agreement to them and they’d already set their budgets,” Richards said. “This year we’re working ahead of schedule so they’ll be plenty of time for planning.”

He added the county has been working with the municipalities throughout the process, so they know the revised agreement awaits their signatures in the near future.

However, the letter from the county board was more direct. It said the county was dropping out of the 1990 interlocal agreement that had the county paying for the operation of the emergency communications center. In its place, a new interlocal agreement was drafted to share the center's cost among the county's 10 communities, based on population.

The county's letter stated that as of Oct. 1, "Scotts Bluff County will no longer be a participant in dispatching or communication services with your community" unless the new agreement is signed. "Effectively, this means that you are now at liberty to build your own Communications Center."

Under the suggested cost breakdown, Scottsbluff would pay 41 percent of the annual cost of upgrades. Gering would contribute 23 percent and the county 22 percent. The remaining 14 percent would be split up among the other communities.

In other action, the county board heard from Director of Operations Carol Prince. They gave approval to a project that has been in the works for some time – a Handy Bus barn near the county roads department at 785 Rundell Rd. in the Gering Industrial Tract.

The barn is expected to cost about $120,000. With usual funding sources, the county would have to pay a 20 percent match of the total cost, around $11,000. The county had already invested some money in an engineering study for the structure.

However, Prince said that if they are successful in securing funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, it would pay the entire cost. They applied for similar funds in 2009, but spent months filling out paperwork and meeting other criteria to receive the grant.

The county board also agreed to drop the speed limit on U St. between 21st Ave. and the Gering city limits to 45 mph. There is currently no speed limit sign along that stretch, so the county road speed limit is set at 55 mph.

Bob Bennett, the county’s public works director said a recent survey showed the speed limit should be reduced to 45 mph. Commissioner Steve Stratton agreed, saying it could especially be a hazard during harvest season with trucks entering and leaving the highway.
Another reason for the change is that once traffic crosses into the City of Gering, the speed limit drops significantly.

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