The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:

Q: Does the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad play property taxes on the rail line through York County? If so, how does the assessor determine the value?

A: York County Assessor Ann Charlton says, “The railroad pays a lot of taxes in York County. They pay by the mile of track and how many cars go through the county. There is track from the east to west and track from York to Benedict. If there is double track, that adds to the miles in the county. This is a central assessed property done by the state and value is determined by the state. The value is then sent to the county and is included in the certified value received by the tax entities that have track in their area. If there is no track in their tax district they get no value and therefore no tax dollars. Track is counted as real property and rail cars are personal property.”

Q: Who was in attendance for the final budget hearing and budget passage for the City of York, as far as the city council members go? Were all the city council members present for that hearing?

A: Present for this year’s budget hearing were Councilmembers VanEsch, Wagner, Hubbard, Pieper, Mogul and Lones. Absent were Councilmembers Hoffman and Saathoff.

Q: I noticed a large black box strapped to a utility pole on our property this weekend. We were not told what it was or that it was going to be placed there, and it did look a bit suspicious. We did some research and discovered that it is probably a traffic counter. Apparently, there is no longer a piece that goes across the road when these are placed. I don’t know how many of these devices are located in York, but there might be others who have wondered what they are and how the information gathered will be used. Can you enlighten us? Thank you.

A: Sgt. Mike Hanke with the York Police Department said this is a device the department has had for about a decade. He explained that it is a device used to check speeds and directions of traffic at different times of day, as well as provide counts.

He also said this device does not record any vehicle information or take photographs or video of any kind – there is no camera involved. It does not record license plate information or any other type of vehicle information – it just collects data that the department can download.

“This data helps us pinpoint problem areas, particularly when we are notified by residents that they are concerned about speeding in their areas,” Hanke said. “It also helps us determine that maybe there really isn’t a problem in a certain area. It helps us design traffic control efforts. Again, it just counts traffic and checks speeds.”

Q: I loved the community project when all those towers were created by local artists and then they were sold off to buyers . . . thanks to that, these little gems are now all over the city, in different places where they will be displayed for many years to come. My question is what are those little towers made of and how much do they weigh because they haven’t blown over during blizzards or summer storms. They seem to be withstanding the weather really well, and that is a good thing.

A: The reader is referring to the tower project that took place in 2017. Local artists were provided with the towers so they could decorate them with their themes.

All of the towers are made of fiberglass and the large towers (the ones you see at different locations) weight approximately 75-100 pounds and they are mounted on 400-pound concrete bases, according to information provided earlier by Madonna Mogul, director of the York Area Chamber of Commerce (which spearheaded the project).

Q: Who determines what is included in a person’s obituary that runs in the newspaper?

A: Obituaries are submitted to the newspaper by the mortuaries, who craft the wording of the obituaries with the family members of the deceased. The family members provide the information they want included or don’t want included.

Q: Are members of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District Board of Directors paid, and if so, how much?

A: The Nebraska State Legislature enacted legislation for the compensation of board members elected to political subdivisions such as the Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District.

Nebraska Revised Statute, Chapter 2, Section 3218 states: “Board members shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in connection with their duties. Each board may provide a per diem payment for directors not to exceed seventy dollars for each day that a director attends meetings of the board or is engaged in matters concerning the district, but no director shall receive more than three thousand six hundred dollars in any one year. Such per diem payments shall be in addition to and separate from reimbursement for expenses.”

Q: Can a person get fired from his or her job for missing work in order to be serving on jury duty? Wouldn’t that be illegal?

A: Nebraska law prohibits employers from penalizing their employees for serving jury duty. They cannot be fired, lose sick leave or lose vacation time.

For more information, go to www.supremecourt.ne.gov.

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