City OKs 2.5% wage hikes for employees

After what Mayor Tim Hersh described as “a hard and arduous process,” members of the City Council, meeting in regular session Monday evening, Dec. 16, voted to approve contracts for city workers who are members of the IBEW and CWA unions.

The vote was unanimous.

The new contracts call for 2.5% increases in wages in each of the next three years.  Administrator Gary Jorn said “some fine tuning” was also involved in the contract negotiations.

The agreements are the result of talks involving union representatives and members of the City’s negotiating committee.

Council members, on a 5-3 vote and after some discussion, approved the slate of officers for 2014 submitted after a vote by members of the Falls City Volunteer Fire Department.  Chief Ken Simpson presented the department’s recommendation and answered questions from council members.

The officers as approved by the council:  Simpson, Fire Chief; Jon McQueen, First Assistant; and Jim Liming, Second Assistant.  Council members Steve Scholl, Judy Murphy and Angie Nolte cast “nay” votes.

A source of question was a development during a mutual aide call in which Liming had a disagreement with Rural Fire Department members.  “We need for the City and Rural Departments go get along,” Scholl said.  

Simpson said he believes there are no outstanding problems.  

Scholl suggested that a change in department by-laws might be in order, with the Chief possibly making the call regarding assistants. 

Mayor Hersh, in his report, noted the impending retirement of Chief of Police John Caverzagie, who has been a member of the department for 35 years.  “He will be missed,” Hersh said, “and hard to replace.” 

Councilman Jerry Oliver said he had been in contact with the Nebraska Department of Roads after a request to reduce the speed limit on Highway 73, north of Falls City to the intersection with Old Highway 73, from 60 mph to 45 mph.  At this time, Oliver said, the NDOR is not prepared to change the speed limit.  A formal letter request from the City will be sent to NDOR.  

In other developments, the council:

—Approved a memorandum of understanding and certification form between the City and Community Medical Center for services under the Section 340-B drug program.  CMC CEO Ryan Larsen explained that this action will enable CMC to receive an approximate 40% discount and allow the hospital to continue charitable efforts in regard to the indigent and needy, while also allowing the hospital to fund other benefits and community efforts. 

—Heard a report from Jorn, who said work is underway to measure electrical loads and generation.  He said the decision by the Board of Public Works and counsel several years ago to invest in the Nebraska City 2 plant is paying dividends.  The purchase of a new generator at the local power plant is being investigated, Jorn said.  NEMA projects from the 2009 ice storm are in the final stages, as well as reimbursement.  Bugs in the new City server have largely been worked out, said Jorn.  And the 20-year-old boilers at Prichard Auditorium have been well maintained and are functioning appropriately.  

—Held a public hearing (no one spoke) and then approved the replat of Lot 1 to 1A and 1B in the Chelsea Addition of Falls City.  

—Voted to give favorable comment on a special designated liquor license for a Christmas party on Jan. 10, 2014, at Prichard Auditorium.  

—Voted to authorize Mayor Hersh to execute the Housing Rehabilitation Management Services contract for $25,000 and the Lead Paint Hazard Clearance Examination contract for $15,000 between the City and SENDD.

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