City moves building inspections to private company

The City of Fort Calhoun agreed to enter into a five-year contract with JDW Midwest to complete the city's building inspections and assist the city with its zoning and building permit process during its regular meeting Aug. 19.

JDW Midwest is a private company that handles building inspections for small and large jurisdictions. JDW owner Darin Whatcott has visited city council meetings two times over the last few months to discuss entering into an contract with the city.

JDW will handle building inspections for the city instead of Washington County. Residents will go the city, assisted by JDW, for their zoning and building permit process.

"We're real thorough on liability," Whatcott said in May. "We're very efficient."

The city will collect permit payment fees. Part of those fees will then be paid to JDW for services provided, at a minimum of $275 a month, but possibly more depending on the amount of fees collected in a particular month.

Heritage Days initial parade route request denied

The city council denied a request to close U.S. Highway 75 in Fort Calhoun from Paddock to Madison streets for the Heritage Days parade.

Council members were concerned about logistics of closing the highway and liability, which would fall on the city in case there was an accident due to highway traffic being re-routed through other city streets.

City employees said they would notify those in charge of setting up the parade of the denial. The city council said it would consider alternate parade routes if they were submitted for the next council meeting Sept. 16.

Betts Circle drainage project update

Work on the Betts Circle drainage project is getting closer to completion, City Engineer Lucas Billesbach of JEO Consulting said.

Billesbach and the city expressed concerns about the pace of work on the project by the contractor at last month's city council meeting.

Billesbach said all construction on the project was to be completed by June 30. Construction work is still being done on a berm above and drainage pipe down into Betts Circle. Billesbach also said all seeding work was to be done by the end of July.

"They indicated to me yesterday they were sending crews and hope to be done in two weeks," Billesbach said. "I don't think two weeks is feasible from I what I see, I think it's closer to four, and that's assuming there's a sustained duration of work associated with it."

The city may consider liquidated damages for the work once the project is completed.

"They have been notified again this past month in terms of where we are with delays and what the contract says in terms of liquidated damages," Billesbach said. "The quality of the work has not been bad by any means, it's just been slow."

Maintenance building, sewer rehabilitation projects updates

Billesbach also discussed the maintenance demolition project and the 2018 sewer rehabilitation project.

The old city maintenance buildings, located in the Adams Street Corridor where a new park will be constructed, have been removed. Some seeding and the capping of an old well by Jensen Well Company of Blair were still to be complete at the Aug. 19 meeting.

The city approved a payment of $28,514 to Maslowsky Grading of Tekamah for the demolition project.

Billesbach said the 2018 sewer rehabilitation project will be delayed again because of wet weather impacting the ability of Midlands Contracting, Inc. to work. The project, which involves installing new liners along pipes, was first approved in May 2018, and was granted extensions due to the weather.

"What they're concerned with is if they blow a liner, when they go to pressurize that liner against an old pipe, that there's still so much infiltration coming along that section, that (water) will pipe it's way through. When it cures, you'll still have a leaky pipe," Billesbach said.

The city will remain in the contract with Midlands Contracting at the same price of around $120,000 approved in May 2018, and work will be completed when feasible.

Golf cart, ATV requirements changed

The city approved changes to its golf cart and ATV vehicle ordinance.

Fort Calhoun residents must be at least 16 years old with a valid license or farm permit to operate a golf cart or ATV in the city. Vehicles must be registered with the city.

Drivers could lose their license or permit for failing to follow the ordinance requirements.

Tree disposal rules change

Fort Calhoun residents hoping to dispose of trees or brush must now check out a key to the city tree disposal site before doing so.

Robinson said the city closed the tree dump site about three weeks ago because people outside of the city have been using it. The city allows only Fort Calhoun residents to use the site and the penalty for those who aren't allowed is $500.

"It's just been a problem down there with people from Omaha, tree companies dumping their trees down there," Robinson said. "If as many trees were taken from Fort Calhoun that are down there, we'd have no trees left in this city."

Residents can check out a key for the dump site from the city office. Would-be tree dumpers must provide proof of a Fort Calhoun residence.

City changes audit, utility software service providers

The city approved an agreement with Grand Island-based accounting firm Almquist, Maltzahn, Galloway and Luth to provide auditing and budget support services.

City Treasurer Katie Knight said the Grand Island firm will provide better service and better quality than the current firm the city goes to — Fremont's Shaw, Hull and Navarrette — for those services.

Knight said many other local governments the city reached out to were satisfied with the Grand Island firm's service. Knight said the city pays $25,000-$35,000 for the Fremont firm, which will likely be similar to the new firm.

The city also approved Power Manager to provide utility and other accounting-centric software services for the city.

City Clerk Alicia Koziol said the current software service provider for utilities, payroll, accounts payable, service orders and other accounting services is slow to respond to issues.

"It takes a week, maybe two weeks to return a call to get help with something," she said.

Power Manager help staff said they will call within two hours.

The city will pay a one-time fee of $11,250 for Power Manager to set up their software and transfer information from the current provider. An annual fee of $5,265 will be paid for maintenance and support after that, which is a similar price to what the city pays for accounting-centric software services now.

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