Lodging tax on Yuma’s ballot

Registered electors will be asked to vote on a lodging tax ballot question during the mail-in April 7 municipal election.
The Yuma City Council voted 5-0 to put the lodging tax question on the ballot during its regular meeting last week. Mayor Ron Swehla, and council members Ryan Saffer, Luke Goeglein, Dan Baucke and Steve Hoch were in attendance. Council members Bryson Chrismer and Bethleen McCall were absent.

The ballot question calls for a 5-percent lodging tax, which would be based on the price of lodging. It includes motel/hotel rooms, as well as any other kind of paid lodging with in the city limits, such as RV spots, bed-and-breakfast arrangements, and Airbnb. The question also asks voters to allow the city to retain up to $200,000 in revenue from the tax in the first fiscal year “and by whatever additional amounts are raised annually each subsequent year.” The new revenue will go into the General Fund.
Baucke asked if the revenue will be earmarked for a specific use. City Manager Scott Moore said it will just go into the General Fund.
It was explained the city government cannot campaign for the ballot question’s passage, but can answer questions about it. The council members were told they could campaign for or against it on their own time.

City property
Moore gave some information regarding the land the city purchased last year located between N. Detroit Ave. and the golf course.
He said the surveying needs to be done first, which Dickinson Land Surveying is currently doing. It also surveying the golf course so the city has an updated survey of that property. The surveying will take about three weeks.
Moore said the city then can move forward with discussion on what to do with the property. Any future development would first require the land to be annexed into the city, and then zoning would take place.

More meeting

• The council approved the Airport Layout Plan and accepted the Airport Master Plan during last week’s meeting. The long-range plans were presented to the council at an earlier meeting. A project set for 2020 is a fuel farm at the airport.
• A resolution appointing a director and an alternate director to the Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska (MEAN) Board of Directors and Management Committee. The board voted unanimously to reappoint Electric Department Supervisor John Prettyman as Yuma’s director, and Moore as alternate director. The same two were appointed as Yuma’s representative and alternate representative to the Members’ Council of the Nebraska Municipal Power Pool.
• A public hearing for a liquor license renewal for the Nelson Inn was tabled because owner Rich Nelson could not attend last week’s meeting.
• Moore noted to the council that a $13,000 is funding the Trap-Neuter-Release project the city will begin at the end of this month. He said the recent public meeting about TNR was informative and well-attended, adding he has received positive comments. He said he also thinks it will be a success.
• Police Chief Jerry Thompson told the council that police will be available to have coffee with the public at 7-11 on February 29 at 11 a.m.
• Councilman Goeglein explained how the purple flags for National Missing Persons Day came about being displayed around Yuma.
• Swehla relayed a study has has seen showing that the Yuma Public Library providing books for checking out is a $150,000 value to the community, and that does not include the other services offered at the library.