Mayor’s Vote Needed to Break Two Ties at Sept. 12 Auburn Council Mtg.
While Auburn’s Mayor doesn’t normally vote on business items, during the Sept. 12 special meeting of the Auburn City Council, two 3-3 votes by the six council members required Mayor Scott Kudrna to cast the deciding vote.
It was reported that evening that three bids had been received to provide property casualty insurance coverage for the City of Auburn. Bidding were Berkshire Hathaway [Cornhusker Casualty] — Homestate Companies through The Casey Agency, the current provider, for $52,575; The Harry A. Koch Co. [Employers Mutual] through Jim Oestmann of Auburn, for $53,545, and the League Association for Risk Management (LARM) with the Nebraska League of Municipalities for $41,947.
Councilman Chris Erickson, who served on an insurance review subcommittee with Councilman Frank Critser, said the subcommittee recommended remaining with the current carrier as opposed to switching to LARM, the low bidder, because of some questions which the subcommittee had regarding the differences between the insurance providers.
Mike Nolan with LARM was present at the Monday night meeting and explained that the reason his group’s quote was approximately $10,000 less than Cornhusker Casualty was due to the past insurance claims experience and that his agency works very hard with its clients to do what is possible to keep its rates low. “We try hard to hold claims down with targeted and specific training,” he said.
Nolan said LARM is a public entity whose records are open to public inspection and its pool of clients includes such First Class cities as Norfolk, North Platte, Hastings, Gering, Scottsbluff, Papillion and LaVista. Locally, it provides coverage for the Auburn Board of Public Works.
Angela Brown with Cornhusker Casualty reported that the city and her company have a long history of working together dating back to 1987. She said the fact that the city has experienced only minimal rate increases over the last 10 years or so demonstrates that Cornhusker wants to keep the City of Auburn as a client.
Frank Critser said he would vote for staying with Cornhusker.
Councilman Larry Holtzman said anytime the city has a chance to save $10,000 he believes such action ought to be given serious consideration.
Voting for remaining with Cornhusker for one year and with the possibility of extending for additional year(s) were Critser, Erickson and Shawn Clark. Voting nay were Holtzman, Mitch Bishop and Katy Billings.
Franchise Fee Exclusion
Another agenda item resulting in considerable discussion was a resolution to exclude industries from paying franchise fees. Specifically, the resolution called to exempt the payment and exclude the collection of city implemented franchise fees from industries with at least 100 full-time employees.
Mayor Kudrna explained that while the resolution addressed industries with at least 100 full-time employees, it in all actuality applied to Ariens because it is inside the city’s limits. It wouldn’t apply to Magnolia Metal Corp. and if another industry should choose to move into the former Armstrong Cabinets building because they are located outside the city’s limits. “We want to keep industries here, and keep them happy and profitable,” Kudrna said.
Councilman Critser said, “It’s our job to treat everyone equally. We are in the present financial mess because of previous administrations ‘giving away the farm’. Ariens knew they would be inside the city’s limits and that could possibly include being subject to franchise fees.”
Local business owners Dan and Rachelle Emshoff asked why it seems that the larger businesses [industries] get the breaks and the smaller businesses keep getting hit with more costs to doing business here. Suki Fischer had a similar comment.
Auburn resident Dottie Holiday said about excluding Industrial from franchise fees, “This proposal is unfair. All individuals, businesses and industries should be treated equally. To say that one type of entity deserves special consideration is wrong.”
Holliday added, “The Auburn Board of Public Works and Black Hills Energy customers cannot afford any additional costs for the energy they need. Plrease, do not put a greater burden on these customers at this time.”
Voting to exclude Industrial from paying franchise fees were Erickson, Bishop and Clark. Voting against the resolution were Holtzman, Billings and Critser.
The mayor broke the tie by voting yes to exclude Industrial from paying franchise fees.
Other Meeting Business
The council also approved a resolution to provide financial backing in support of the Auburn Memorial Library Foundation in obtaining an interim financing loan from Auburn State Bank for funding assistance for a building addition to the Auburn Memorial Library. While the city has agreed to provide the financial backing, the money involved is actually already included in the Library’s Budget in that the $20,000 line item for new books/etc. would be decreased to $14,000 for the period which the City of Auburn’s financial assistance is needed.
It also passed an ordinance to correct a clerical error in a previously adopted ordinance and approved a contract amendment on CDBG Project 09-AUB-014 changing the amount.
Auburn Fire Chief Randy Bennett was appointed as the city’s representative on the Mutual Financing Organization.
Also, Clinton Stonebarger was appointed as a part-time Auburn Police Officer. Clark voted nay on Stonebarger’s appointment.