Mayor Tim Hersh had a strong and positive message when he addressed the City Council and visitors during the Monday, Jan. 6, meeting at the City Building. Call it a “state of the city” address.
The mayor, who is beginning his fourth year in office, cited three years in which Falls City “has continued to grow,” in spite of “harsh resistance” from some. “Economically, our town has seen the largest growth in its history,” Hersh said, noting the arrival of new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses.
Despite the current economy in the nation, with huge deficits, “Falls City still operates in the black,” Hersh said. And though taxes and utility rates have increased, the mayor said he has seen improvements in the local housing market, with more “sold” signs on houses and new housing construction.
Hersh said employment numbers have increased and the type of new hires promises more growth in the future. While Falls City grows, the mayor said, it continues to embrace its “rich heritage,” blending the new and historic, as evidenced by the Main Street transformation.
“Falls City has the potential to be the best city in Southeast Nebraska,” Hersh said.
The future, he said, is in the hands of community leaders, who have the choice to “remain on track and move forward.”
He reminded that “in the not so distant past, Falls City was a dying community because of a lack of vision, complacence and an unwillingness to change.” Hersh said at one point he “couldn’t wait to leave it all behind.” But, “whether I chose Falls City or Falls City chose me,” he returned to his hometown. “Like many of you,” he said in addressing the council and the audience, “I was unwilling to abandon my home.”
Falls City’s “EKG was reading flatline,” Hersh said. “Now look at us. We are strong and steady and our color has returned.”
The mayor said he has worked with many groups, and described the men and women on the Council as “the best.” Too often, he said, “they are taken for granted.” He cited Council members for the good work they have done to further the town’s revitalization, while working to solve its problems. Hersh named every Council member and thanked them for their service.
He also thanked members of the community, “for the time you give back, for speaking your mind and for your research and due diligence.”
All of these factors, he said, will enable the city to “continue to move forward” and “have a strong heartbeat.”
The mayor also thanked the dedicated city employees, Administrator Gary Jorn, who works long hours and often feels the brunt of unpopular, but necessary, city decisions, and those who serve on committees. “It takes a community to move a community forward,” Hersh said.
Hersh said he looks forward to the new year, after which he will move in a different direction. He is a candidate for Richardson County Sheriff.
Council members voted unanimously to re-elect Jerry Oliver as president. Steve Scholl was unanimously elected Acting Council President.
CPA Julie Bauman presented a most favorable audit report, now described as “unmodified.” She said the audit procedure “went very well.” All funds were audited, she said, and the city’s “net position” is very good. Debt was decreased by almost $400,000 from 2012 through 2013. Revenue was up, but slightly. Mrs. Bauman said the city has “very good internal control structure. She expressed her thanks for the work of Jorn and the support of the Council and all involved in preparing materials for the audit.
Council members approved the recommendation from the Board of Public Works to purchase an emergency generator for the water plant at Rulo. This had been cited by the state as a deficiency. City Utilities Supt. Alan Romine said six bids were received and that the low bid from Waldinger Corp. of St. Joseph, MO, in the amount of $199,750 was recommended. Romine said the generator will be sufficient to supply needs should an outage take place.
The Council rejected bids for the Wilderness Falls infrastructure improvement project, as all seemed to be excessively high. Jorn will negotiate in hopes of finding a more appropriate bid for the project.
A request for the city to pay administration costs for the cafeteria plan (about $400 a year) was approved.
On a 5-3 vote, the council approved the request from the Sacred Heart Booster Club to use Prichard Auditorium for their March 1 dinner and auction, and to allow alcohol to be served. Judy Murphy, Scholl and Kirby Robidoux voted “no,” not because they opposed the event, but rather because they did not agree with alcohol being associated with a school-related function.