Budgeting for projects: Scottsbluff council holds budget

Scottsbluff City Council members convened Wednesday for a budget workshop session ahead of the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Interim city manager Kevin Spencer led the meeting, reviewing the budgeted items within each department for the upcoming year. He also commended the work of Finance Director Liz Loutzenhizer and the city personnel to manage budgets amid rising costs and inflation.

The drafted budget is a conservative one as the city looks ahead to the cost of fuel, materials and projects coming up in the next year, Spencer said.

“This is a pretty conservative look … which we thought was good to do,” he told the council.

LB 357, the proposed project on a new aquatics center will be on the ballot in November. If that passes, the city will have to budget funds for the project, otherwise, the council will have to discuss renovation of the Westmoor Pool facility.

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A major project the city will go out for bids next year is the $2.2 million transfer station. That project is budgeted in the environmental services department fund. The transfer station will likely be located close to the old city landfill.

Another project that will affect multiple department budgets is A Scotts Bluff County project to upgrade equipment at the communication center.

“The communication center is upgrading all of their radio equipment,” Spencer said. “We’ve tried to get an update on that, but it has been a moving target as far is what our share is and what we’re getting, so we’re working on that.”

Initially, the project was estimated at $7.2 million with the plan for the county to pay for the infrastructure and the city responsible for equipment.

The fire department has budgeted $26,090, the parks department has $5,000 and the police department has $35,591 budgeted for the county radio project.

Spencer also discussed the plaza improvements slated for next year. The parks department has $850,000 budgeted for plaza improvements, but the estimated costs came in nearly $200,000 below that.

“We got the numbers back and it’s $651,000 as the estimate,” Spencer said. “It’s a nice permanent stage. There will be a well-defined entrance with brick work. Some of it will resemble the pedestrian overpass over Highway 26 so that will tie together. It really looks nice.”

Mayor Jeanne McKerrigan asked if the plaza improvements included adding restrooms to the space. Spencer said that topic is still being discussed as the restrooms would have to be fairly substantial to accommodate the occupancy of the plaza. Conversations are also ongoing about how to acquire surrounding properties, but nothing concrete has been in the works.

There is $515,000 budgeted in the wastewater department for a 30-inch sewer main reline at the wastewater treatment plant. Spencer said a company out of Colorado will line that size pipe, which is a cheaper option for the city after an inspection showed the current state of the material.

“When they ran the camera down through there, they noticed the top had deteriorated,” Spencer said. “Dave (Schaff, local engineer) estimated 35,000 gallons of water flow through that pipe per minute. This is a big project.”

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