The Nemaha Natural Resources District board approved a $5 million budget Sept. 12 on a 16-3 vote.
The budget includes over $1 million for land rights required for the Duck Creek flood control project, which will ultimately include a public recreation component.
As part of the Buck & Duck Creek project, $421,000 is included for conservation cost-share measures to help protect the water quality within the watershed.
Both Nebraska Environmental Trust and federal Environmental Protection Agency funds will help pay the bill for these improvements.
Also included in this year's major expenditures is about $450,000 for the completion of the Wilson Creek 8-H rehabilitation.
This project is receiving federal funds for 65 percent of the cost to upgrade the dam located along Highway 2 west of Dunbar in Otoe County to high hazard standards.
This year's tax request landed at $2,413,416, which is about $200,000 more than last year. The extra funds were included to help with future expenditures required for the Duck Creek project.
However, with a 12 percent increase in land valuations, this year's tax levy dropped to 0.043742; last year's levy was at 0.44979.
Three bids for watershed repair projects were on the agenda for approval following approval of the budget.
The board approved the low bid of $77,000 from Kuhl Trenching & Excavating of Tecumseh for rip rap work on two dams in the Upper Little Nemaha Watershed near Eagle.
Kuhl Trenching was also the low bidder on three dams in the Adams area with a price of $56,437.50. B.A.B., Inc., Adams, submitted the low bid of $36,811.10 for three dams in Pawnee County.
In a 10-9 decision the board voted to increase the per diem rate paid to its elected members for meetings and other NRD related business. However, the change which increases the rate from $50 to $65, will not take place until the start of the fiscal year in July of 2014.
State law allows NRD board members to receive up to $70 per day for their service in addition to reimbursement of mileage and other expenses. Per diem is capped, however, at a maximum of $3,600 per director per year.
Eight applications for well permits were approved in one vote. Wells receiving approval included: SO & PL, LLC, in Richardson County; Eugene Wiese, two for Roy Mulder, and Gwyn Wingate, all in Gage County; Otto Acres, LLC, Lancaster County; Harlan Beethe, Pawnee County; and Owen Mullen Trust, Johnson County. All were for irrigation wells with the exception of SO & PL, LLC, which was for wetland flooding.
An agreement with Keith Joekel to allow him to use 75 acre feet of water annually from the reservoir at Middle Big Nemaha structure 88 was renewed for another 10 years. This agreement satisfies a requirement to allow water to pass through this structure to satisfy a surface water permit that Mr. Joekel has downstream of the dam and which was in place prior to construction of the dam.
Page 2 of 2 - The board again discussed a request to enter into an agreement with Al Armstrong to provide assurance to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that mitigation requirements for a 404 permit are carried out.
Armstrong is constructing a grade stabilization structure with federal cost-share funding, and the corps is requiring him to establish a $76,000 escrow account as assurance that he will complete the wetlands mitigation they require in order to approve his permit.
After discussion about pros and cons of providing this assurance, the board opted against participating citing concerns about financial obligation, liability, and precedence for future requests.