The night started out with two separate meetings being held before the City Council meeting even got started. First, the Open Public Comment was held at 6:30 pm. At 7:00 pm we started the night with the Community Development Agency meeting, then the Board of Equalization meeting. Finally, at 8:15 pm the City Council meeting got started and was adjourned before the complete agenda was accomplished at 11:31 pm. So, in reality, the city council meeting only lasted a little over 3 hours.
Open Public Comment
One young lady got up in front of the council and brought to our attention some loud noises coming from Tommy’s Car Wash early in the morning and late into the evening. She stated she had contacted city officials but nothing was done. She was now reaching out for help in trying to resolve this issue.
#10) Receive fiscal year-end financial statements. This agenda item was on the Consent Agenda and was not intended to be discussed. I have to thank Council member Jacobus for asking to bring this agenda item off the Consent Agenda. This was way too important to be put on the Consent Agenda. There have been people complaining about council members taking items off the Consent Agenda and making the meetings go longer. This is a great example, this is way too important to simply vote on with no exposure or discussion. Thank you, Jody Sanders, for presenting this information is a very friendly format.
#23) Ordinance 5518 repealing and replacing Chapter 3, Article 7 Section 3-701 of the Fremont Municipal Code titled Municipal Library This issue goes all the way back to a vote in October of 2019, where the council voted 7 to 1, to authorize the City Librarian to go forward with searching for and hiring a new full time IT position, which had recently become vacant. The city administration looked at the vote as not the ‘right’ decision by the city council, and so they went forward in trying to get the Fremont City Municipal Code changed to match their wants. They want the Library Board to be nothing more than an Advisory Board that reports to and gets instructions from the City Administration. After spending many billable hours of legal research, the administration submitted a modification to the City Municipal Code that would make the operation of our city library far less efficient.
The city council vote in October was an indication that most council members wanted to do what was best for the library. To allow the Library Board to essentially keep as many of the operational authorities as permitted by the State so that the Library board could continue to be run in the way it had been operating in the past. After a little research by some of the council, it appears that most libraries across Nebraska have a hybrid type of library board, somewhere between a purely Advisory board and a full Governing board. Many 1st Class cities that have a hybrid library, specifically allow the Board to hire the librarian and the library staff.
I believe from the vote taken in October, most council members would like to continue to have an empowered Library board that can react quickly to the ever-evolving needs of the public and the library’s staffing needs.
#28) Resolution 2020-052 approving a Local Option Economic Development Loan for WholeStone Farms II, LLC. WholeStone Farms was asking for $1,300,000.00 from our Local LB840 fund. Previously in the council meeting, we voted to start the process of annexing the property on which WholeStone Farms sits. This property is currently sitting in a county industrial area and has not paid any Fremont taxes. The property currently appraised at approximately $8,000,000.00. Once this property hits the city tax rolls, there will be approximately $36,000.00 added to our city budget yearly. Fremont Public Schools will see approximately $113,000.00 yearly as well. I said that all to say that this request seemed a little different to me than any other previously large request for LB840 funds. Last year, WholeStone bought a very old factory in which Hormel was about to shutter. They currently employ around 1300 employees and with the future expansion are looking to add many more. With just over a year under their belt at this plant, WholeStone has shown they are committed to the people of Fremont. That is why I voted ‘Yes’ in approving the loan, which will be forgivable if performance metrics are met.
#29) Resolution 2020-053 of the City Council of the City of Fremont, Nebraska, approving the 2020 City of Fremont One Year-Six Year Street Improvement Plan. I am reporting on this agenda item even though it was not addressed at the city council meeting. Council member Legband motioned to adjourn and a second was given and the vote was taken with a 4-4 tie. The mayor cast the deciding vote to adjourn, ending the meeting at 11:31 pm. The council had 3 more agenda items to go, and we couldn’t finish. What upset me most was it was brought to my attention that there were citizens waiting all night long for this agenda item to come up for discussion, and the council voted to end the meeting prematurely. This is just another example of why the citizens of Fremont don’t trust their government. We can do better.