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Comm center agreement starts to come together
November 07, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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At their Monday meeting, Scotts Bluff County Commissioners assured the county’s municipalities they had until December to sign on with the interlocal agreement to fund new equipment for the emergency communications center.

Gering City Administrator Lane Danielzuk spoke to the board and requested they rescind an earlier vote to extend the deadline from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15.

The revised interlocal agreement developed by the county was sent to municipalities on June 17. The agreement’s language set Dec. 17 as the official end of the 180-day notification period for municipalities to sign the new agreement and make payment, which is a population-based funding formula developed by the county.

Commissioner Mike Marker said he had no problem with extending the deadline to Dec. 17, but didn’t want to extend it again. “We’re at a point where ample time has been given and I hope we can get this agreement signed by Dec. 17.”

County Board Chairman Mark Masterton asked Danielzuk if it was Gering’s intention to have the agreement signed by Dec. 17, he was told ‘yes.’

The county board agreed in principle to extend the deadline and rescind the original Nov. 15 vote. No action could be taken because the item wasn’t on the agenda. However, it will be made official at the board’s next meeting on Nov. 18.

Masterton said changing the deadline was reasonable, because Dec. 17 was in the original letter.

Earlier, the board agreed to what Masterton called another reasonable request. It would change voting rules on the advisory board set up to oversee the comm. center. Originally, the board had one vote for every 1,000 population. Smaller municipalities argued that would sway control to the county’s population centers. So the county board agreed to one vote for each municipality, regardless of size.

Masterton said he talked with Scottsbluff Mayor Randy Meininger, whose city had already signed the county’s interlocal agreement. He said they would probably agree to the change in voting rules.

So far, Scottsbluff, Henry and McGrew have signed the county’s agreement.

After the meeting, Danielzuk said he was happy with the county board’s intention to extend the deadline. “There will be an agreement on the Gering council over this,” he said.

The major point of disagreement is still the funding mechanism outlined in the county’s interlocal agreement. The county’s proposal is based on population. Several Gering City Council members said that amounts to double taxation for those who live in municipalities, who are taxed on both the county and city levels.

Council member Jill McFarland had developed a formula she said is more equitable because it taxes everyone in the county the same rate.

Danielzuk said the proposed contract he’s forwarding to the council contains the county’s funding formula. It still hasn’t been ratified by the council, although members have seen a draft of the contract.

Danielzuk said it’s still unknown whether the council will accept the county’s funding formula, but he’s confident the agreement will be signed by the Dec. 17 deadline.
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