Thaw in City hiring freeze

Meeting for the first time in Council Chambers at the new City Hall (2307 Barada) on Monday evening, May 6, council members voted unanimously to remove the hiring freeze that had been in place for several (about five) years.

First Ward Councilman Mike Dougherty addressed the hiring freeze issue, saying he believed new hires should be on a “case-by-case” basis and that department heads could appear before the council to explain the rationale for adding new employees.  This issue had been previously addressed, as administrators spoke about the number of City workers who are nearing, or have reached, retirement age.

Clerk/Treasurer Gary Jorn said the move to the newly remodeled City office building had involved “a lot of hours” but had “worked out well.” The new office structure, he said, will make for a more efficient and convenient environment.

In other developments, the council:

—Approved the bid from Herzog Contracting Corp., St. Joseph, MO, for asphalt overlay projects on 18th Street from Harlan to Lane and on 16th Street from Chase to Crook. The bid was for $66,550. Constructors of Lincoln had submitted a bid of $79,156.25.

—Okayed the second reading of the ordinance to alter the time for the second council meeting of each month, from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.

—Held a public hearing regarding the Time Warner request to extend their franchise agreement.  Some concerns were expressed by the council, including the discontinuance of council meeting broadcasts, phone calls routed to Lincoln and not the local office and the need for more public access channels.

—Authorized Mayor Tim Hersh to sign a request for a 30-day extension of the contract end-date in regard to the Phase II Downtown Revitalization Grant.  This would potentially allow for project money to be used for signs and lighting.

—Approved requests from the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street for the 2013 Cobblestone Festival to be held in mid-August. The theme will be:  “Falls City: A Community on the Rise.” Also requested was a special designated liquor license for a beer garden to be held downtown during the festival.

—Approved the placement of Yield signs at the intersections of 18th and 19th and McLean Streets.

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