Tax increment financing and city road projects were the main topics at a town hall meeting hosted by the Nebraska City City Council at the Morton-James Public Library Thursday night.
Residents had the opportunity to learn more about the road projects the city will undertake in 2017, as well as ask questions of city commissioners and staff during the hour-long meeting.
Mayor Bryan Bequette, along with City Administrator Grayson Path and Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Dan Mauk, opened the meeting with an overview of tax increment financing (TIF), which is one useful tool for economic development, according to Bequette.
Other useful economic development tools include the Nebraska City Growth Fund (formerly known as LB 840 funds) and the Economic Development Rotating Loan Fund, said Bequette.
He added that TIF is especially useful in areas that are considered blighted and substandard because development is unlikely to happen in such areas without the use of TIF funds.
About $800,000 in TIF funds are helping to pay for the new hotel development south of town, said Bequette.
About $8 million will be spent to build the hotel, he said, which will have a value of about $3 million when completed.
City Street Commissioner Vic Johns took over leadership of the meeting when the topic changed to current road projects.
He began with an update of the Kearney Hill Road project, which is set to begin soon.
On Monday, March 20, the council authorized Mayor Bequette to sign an agreement with M.E. Collins Contracting Co. Inc. for the Kearney Hill project. M.E. Collins submitted the winning bid of $307,801.10 for the project.
Johns explained to the audience that the road is currently gravel, which forms ruts when wet and dust when dry. He called it “an ongoing maintenance nightmare for our street department and the residents” who live on the road.
The improvement project will crown the entire road, pave it with concrete, and add storm sewers and gutters to a portion of it. Community development block grant funds will help pay for the project, which is scheduled to be completed mid- to late summer, according to Johns.
Johns then gave a brief recap of the 4th Corso Viaduct project, which began after routine maintenance on the bridge deck revealed a 2-foot by 3-foot hole in the deck in June 2015.
At that time, it seemed the city would have to spend $7.4 million to replace the bridge, said Johns, and a search began to find funding for the project.
The city’s portion of the project is now about 20 percent of the total cost, said Johns, thanks to city staff and citizens locating a variety of state and federal funds that could be applied to the project.
Ninety percent of the engineering for the 4th Corso Viaduct project is complete, said Johns, and the Nebraska Department of Roads and the Union Pacific Railroad are reviewing the project.
Current plans call for the existing bridge to be deconstructed this fall and over the 2017-2018 winter.
The current bridge must be down before April 2018, said Bequette, to prevent migrating birds from nesting under the bridge and further delaying the project.
Although it doesn’t seem like much is going on with the 4th Corso Viaduct project, Nebraska City Construction and Facilities Manager Marty Stovall reassured the audience that work continues on the project.
“Nebraska City Utilities has a lot going on with the project right now that’s not tangible,” he said. (See related story at right.)
The next project up for discussion, the South Intersection, is “on budget and on schedule,” according to Johns, who added that the anticipated completion date is the end of 2017, thanks in part to a mild winter that allowed construction crews to keep working on the project after a wetter-than-normal August set the schedule back.
Johns concluded his portion of the presentation with a look at the North 11th Street project, which is set to begin later this year.  This project will repair 11th Street from 1st Avenue to the city limits.
It will also replace the bridge over North Table Creek and provide ADA-compliant curb ramps, updated storm sewers and a pedestrian walkway, according to Stovall.