Local News

North Platte City Council members will be asked Tuesday to adopt two recommendations from the city’s auditing firm that would formally wipe out the deficit in the Iron Eagle Golf Course fund.

A proposed council resolution would use $3.25 million in surplus city electric fees to retire the golf deficit and transfer future accounting of Iron Eagle’s finances to the city’s general fund.

Tuesday night’s meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m., rather than the usual 7:30 p.m., to avoid conflicts with scheduled Nebraskaland Days events. As usual, the meeting will be in the council chamber at City Hall, 211 W. Third St.

Long-standing community divisions over the star-crossed, 25-year-old Iron Eagle were voiced anew May 21 during and after a council review of North Platte’s 2017-18 city audit.

Marcy Luth, a member of the Grand Island accounting firm of Almquist, Maltzahn, Galloway & Luth, called attention to the golf fund’s net deficit of $2.94 million at the end of the last fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2018.

Though the city had an overall $1.97 million general-fund balance at the same point, Luth said, Iron Eagle’s accumulated losses had reached “a point where it needs to be fixed.”

Using surplus utility fees was among the options Luth suggested for formally retiring the golf fund deficit. North Platte has operated its own electric distribution system — now known as Municipal Light & Water — since 1940.

Luth also renewed her firm’s recommendations from past audits that the city adopt a true “unassigned cash reserve,” rather than moving money internally among various funds to account for Iron Eagle’s chronic deficit.

The proposed council resolution would formally declare Iron Eagle a department under the city’s general fund as of Oct. 1, the date when its 2019-20 fiscal year will begin.

The resolution’s language doesn’t address the city’s Quality Growth Fund, which the golf fund had owned $3.66 million — at least on paper — at the point the last fiscal year ended. QGF is funded with city sales tax dollars dedicated to economic development purposes.

In an unrelated agenda item, the council will consider a separate resolution to transfer $800,000 to the general fund from the city’s Community Development Block Grant fund.

Like many other Nebraska cities and counties, North Platte has applied for and received federal CDBG funds for a variety of housing improvement and community betterment projects. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development administers the program.

When expected CDBG funds have been slow to arrive, the city has tapped some of its other funds to keep projects moving, according to council documents. The CDBG resolution would reimburse several such transfers over recent years.

In other business, the council will:

» Decide whether to award a $179,700 bid to Wayne Dowhower Construction of North Platte to build an equipment storage building for the city’s Water Department. It would be finished by Oct. 1.

Paulsen’s Inc. of Cozad submitted the only other bid of $203,345 for the project, for which the city had set aside $150,000 in its current budget. The $29,700 difference between that amount and Dowhower’s bid would be included in the 2019-20 budget.

» Take a second-round vote on a rezoning ordinance that would let Brandon and Skye Seery build a shop for personal use at 1302 N. Roosevelt Ave. Council members gave the ordinance first-round approval June 4.

» Consider an interlocal agreement with the West Central Nebraska Development District to conduct an environmental review for the North Platte Housing Authority.

The review is needed for the authority to access $600,000 in 2018 capital funds as well as a pending $600,000 grant for 2019, according to council documents.

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