The following questions were asked recently on the Wonderline:
Q: OK, right now, York looks like a joke because we can’t figure out our finances.
Wasn’t it just two years ago that York was named the Nebraska Community of the Year?
A: In early September, 2016, the Nebraska Diplomats named York the Community of the Year.
Governor Pete Ricketts presented the award to then-mayor Chuck Harris.
The honor was based on “outstanding economic activity, quality of life assets, investment efforts in the future of the community, strong infrastructure and forward-thinking attitude.”
Q: When Orval Stahr was elected mayor in November, 2016, by how many votes did he win?
A: Stahr won by 110 votes over longtime mayor, Chuck Harris.
Stahr received 1,669 votes, compared to 1,559 for Harris.
Q: I just heard that the mayor tried to split the council for budget hearings so they wouldn’t have a quorum and then the public couldn’t attend. Is that legal?
A: It never actually happened. Members of the city council confirmed with the YNT that they had been invited to one of two meetings to talk about the budget with the mayor and city administrator -- with half of them to attend one meeting and the other half to attend the other meeting.
There were no legal notices regarding those split meetings, because they weren’t necessary if a quorum wasn’t going to exist.
And that idea was not illegal – because the quorums would haven’t existed.
About 45 minutes after the YNT published the story about the split meetings, the city offices sent over a legal notice for a full council meeting to be held the next Monday and the split meetings were cancelled.
Q: I’ve been reading about the budget cuts for the city and wanted to know how much the city gives the Chamber of Commerce each year?
A: The city’s annual allocation to the York Chamber of Commerce has been $20,000.
Q: What is the process of having an elected official recalled?
A: First a recall affidavit has to be filed with the York County Clerk. In that affidavit the petitioner provides a statement as to why they believe the elected official should be removed from elected office.
The clerk’s office can assist with this process.
Then the affidavit is filed with the county clerk’s office and the request by the person filing is made for a certain number of petitions to be prepared for circulation among the registered voters in the jurisdiction served by the elected official. It should also be noted that the lead petitioner/petitioners must be registered voters in that jurisdiction as well.
The clerk’s office will then contact the Nebraska Secretary of State to make sure the affidavit and petition request met all legal standards. When that office verifies all legal standards have been met the process will be officially started by the county clerk.
The elected official will be notified and given 20 days in which to provide a defense statement. The defense statement would then be included on the petitions.
After the 20-day deadline arrives, the clerk drafts the petitions, which are then provided to the petitioners.
The petitioner/petitioners then have 30 days to obtain a specific number of signatures from registered voters in that jurisdiction. The number of signatures must meet or exceed 35 percent of the votes cast for that specific election position in the last election.
Once the 30-day timeframe has expired, the clerk is allowed 15 days in which to examine the petitions and officially certify whether the minimum number of valid signatures has been met. If so, the matter then is decided by election. The only people who would be allowed to participate in that election would be registered voters in that specific jurisdiction.
If the minimum required number of signatures is not collected, the matter would not go any further.
If the matter goes to election, the voters would simply be asked if the elected official should be recalled. The majority decides that question.
Q: The mayor keeps yelling about how he wants money for economic development programs and then he says we don’t have any money left anyway. That’s bizarre in itself.
Then we have the local economic development group asking for an extra $20,000 this year, when they already get $80,000. So we are suddenly completely broke, have no money for snow removal or mowing the parks, but we need to give an extra $20,000 to the economic development group?
A: Actually, the York County Development Corporation already withdrew that earlier request they made. Lisa Hurley, the director of the York County Development Corporation, issued a statement this past week: “We requested an increase from $80,000 to $100,000 prior to our knowledge of budget issues. At this time, we would like to formally withdraw our request for an increase.”
Q: OK, the city administrator and the mayor made some earlier comment that the ambulance revenue is down. Isn’t that really an issue of how they jacked up the budget number for the 2017-18 fiscal year, far above what had been coming in before? So it’s an issue of them putting out an unrealistic budget number in the first place.
A: The actual EMS revenue was $544,813 in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The administration recommended and the council approved $715,000 in EMS revenue for the 2017-18 budget year.
We haven’t seen the actuals for this year, but yes, the budgeted amount for this fiscal year is $170,187 more than what actually came in the year before – we aren’t sure why that higher budgeted number for revenues was put in this year’s budget because it would seem unrealistic based on past numbers.
Q: My question is whether the city administrator is willing to take a cut in pay. That might save some money, too.
A: Well, actually, he said he would.
During the most recent budget meeting with the city council, Joe Frei announced that he would be “taking a $10,000 self-imposed reduction in salary.”
Q: Will Adopt A Pet be getting an allocation from the city this year? Will be it be less than normal?
A: During this past week’s budget meeting of the mayor, administration and council, this topic came up.
Mayor Orval Stahr explained that the city’s been subsidizing Adopt A Pet each year, with the most recent allocation being $32,000.
“Joe (Frei, administrator) met with them, and this is a volunteer organization,” Stahr said, noting the allocation being discussed right now is $26,000.
The amount discussed earlier had been $16,500.
“Didn’t someone just give them millions of dollars?” asked Councilman Ron Saathoff, which was met by a resounding no from the Adopt A Pet supporters in the room.
“Someone paid off their building,” explained Councilman Barry Redfern.
“They agreed to the cut,” Stahr said. “If they would no longer serve the city, we would spend 10 times that because the service is required by state statute.”
Unless the council votes to cut the allocation any more, it appears that the $26,000 allocation will be the number for this next fiscal year.