Mayor provides city updates at Hot Topic event

Julie Rach
Nebraska City Mayor Bryan Bequette was the featured speaker at Hot Topics on Jan. 8. He provided the audience with a 'State of Nebraska City' update.

Mayor Bryan Bequette provided an unofficial "State of Nebraska City" update at the January Hot Topics presentation on Jan. 8.

Bequette told the crowd at Scooter's Coffee that the city received its largest share of sales tax revenues in the community's history: $1.977 million in late 2019.

He noted that two major road projects--the 4th Corso Viaduct and the North 11th Street project--were completed last year, and the city's streets department now has the 15 bridges within Nebraska City city limits on a maintenance program.

The city took $307,000 from its reserves to pay down debt, said Bequette. Part of that debt was the retirement of a bond that will help keep future property taxes down, he added.

Five percent of the city's budget is made up of grants and donations, said Bequette.

"We are blessed to have family foundations and citizen donations" to help with community projects, he said.

In 2020, the City of Nebraska City will undertake a major road project on 6th Street between 1st and 8th avenues, said Bequette. It will also undertake repairs on the 1st, 10th and 16th street bridges.

Bequette said the city streets department purchased a new dump truck and sander, as well as a new snow blower to replace the 1949 model that stopped operating last winter. The blower helps remove windrows after the plows clear the snow.

City Council meetings will move from City Hall to the Rowe Public Safety Complex later this year, said Bequette, to provide more seats for citizens who want to attend the meetings.

The move is also part of a plan to relocate some city offices into the former meeting room and open up space in the rear of the building for EMS crews to sleep on overnight shifts, said Bequette.

The city will add a shelter over the identification kiosk at Wyuka Cemetery this year, said Bequette, and it is working with the Friends of Riverview Park to get that facility operational again.

The Morton-James Public Library received grant funds to undertake an exterior renovation this year, said Bequette, that will stabilize the building's brickwork.

He added that the library will host the Library Innovations Studio MakerSpace until March 2020.

The Nebraska City Police Department, which is currently fully staffed, will receive a new patrol unit this year, said Bequette, and K-9 Officer Mack will soon be handed by Sgt. Chris Richardson.

The Nebraska City Fire Department hired two new full-time emergency medical technicians and one part-time paramedic, said Bequette. The department will also buy a new ambulance later this year, thanks to donation assistance from the Wirth Foundation.

To address the city's housing situation, Bequette said Nebraska City has begun a purchase-rehab-resell program that will upgrade three houses in the community for new owners.

He said that NorthStar Housing LLC, which developed the Nebraska City Senior Patio Homes near CHI Health St. Mary's, is in discussion to build more housing units near the patio homes development.

Bequette also discussed the upcoming 2020 census and encouraged citizens to respond to census inquiries online before April 1.

Finally, he noted that there will be a primary election on May 12 and a general election on Nov. 3. He is running for re-election, as are Parks and Recreation Commissioner Patrick Wehling and Public Works Commissioner Paul Davis.

Hot Topics is a monthly presentation of Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce. It takes place at 8 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at Scooter's Coffee, 2104 S. 11th St.