Council puts sales tax on ballot

The City of Yuma is putting a sales tax increase on the November ballot.
The Yuma City Council approved the resolution calling for the special election, during last week’s regular meeting in Council Chambers at Yuma City Hall. All seven council members were in attendance, Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay, Marylu Smith-Dischner, Terry Frame, Jerome Benish, Tim McClung and Dan Baucke.
The ballot question outlines specific uses for the new revenue, and includes a sunset.
The city will be asking voter approval for an additional sales tax of 1.5 percent, raising the city’s sales tax from 3 percent to 4.5 percent. It is expected to generate $1.5 million in the first full fiscal year, which would be 2023.
The new revenue would be spent by the city to finance, operate and maintain the Ambulance, Fire, Police and Street departments.
The additional tax would expire on December 31, 2032, at which point voters could decide to extend it or not.
City Manager Scott Moore told the council that including specific use for the revenue, and a sunset, should help provide clarity to the public.

Econ development
Shelby Clark, executive director of Yuma County Economic Development Corporation, provided an update to the council during last week’s meeting.
The YCEDC is continuing to advertise Yuma County in a Colorado magazine, helping with succession plans, and Clark clarified the partnership between the Yuma and Wray chambers is an effort to work together for the full county, but is not a merger.
She said a grant has been secured to provide consultation in making steps toward Yuma County being a tourist destination.
“This is my passion project,” Clark said.
The county also has joined the Northeast Colorado Travel Region.
Housing remains a constant topic.

More meeting
• A new liquor license for La Terraza, LLC, was approved unanimously, as was the liquor license renewal for La Cabaña.
• The council approved accepting a grant for the Yuma Ambulance Service in providing the EMT classes it provides through Northeast Junior College.
• The first reading of an ordinance was passed. It deals with the first amendment to the ground lease and purchase agreement with the Jeff Armstrong Memorial Foundation for certain city property. There will be a public hearing prior to the second reading at the next council meeting.
• A resolution adopting updated avoided cost rate fees for the Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska (MEAN) was approved. It has something to do with reimbursing customers who produce more in solar energy than what they use. Moore said no one has ever reached the benchmark, but it still needs to be in the books.
• The council accepted a donation from NECALG for more than $4,000 to pay for an ADA door at the Yuma Community and Enrichment Center.
• Another resolution dealing with a facilities use agreement with Yuma School District-1 was tabled until some questions council members had could be answered.
• The health insurance renewal with CBDT and property and liability insurance renewal with CIRSA both were approved unanimously. The health insurance is going up about $28,000, and the property insurance about $20,000.
• A 5-2 vote approved the purchase of a concrete pad for a transformer for about $12,000. Baucke and McClung voted against.
• Community member Duane Brown addressed the council, thanking the city for participating in the expanded recycling program. “It’s really been a tremendous thing for us,” he said. “Thank you for doing it, and I hope it lasts a long time.”
• The council went into executive session to discuss negotiations regarding leased city property. Baucke abstained from the vote to go into executive session, and did not participate in the closed door meeting. The council adjourned after coming back into open meeting.