On Wednesday, the Beatrice Board of Public Works approved the city’s one and six-year road plan, sending the schedule of road construction to the Beatrice City Council for final approval.
The state of Nebraska requires Beatrice to file the report every year with the Department of Transportation, which shows where money is being spent on street repair.
It’s a flexible document, said City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer, so if something changes and a street needs to be added or subtracted from the mix, there’s a little leeway.
“The first year is obviously what we're planning on doing this summer, so those are usually, pardon the pun, a little more set in concrete,” Tempelmeyer said. “Those are projects you know are going to happen.”
Year two of the plan is a pretty good indicator of the direction of construction as well, Tempelmeyer said, but years three through six are a lot more flexible. The plan includes a list of streets that need repair, but the list can be changed should funding or other issues arise, he said.
For 2018, the city has two concrete reconstruction projects scheduled for this summer, one on Bell Street from 10th to 12th street and the other is Summit Street from Seventh to Ninth street. Both projects will run a little over $300,000 and are out to bid at the moment, Tempelmeyer said.
There are also mill and overlay projects on the truck route on Ella Street from Third to Sixth street, and an asphalt project on the west side of Beatrice in a redevelopment project that will be paid for using Tax Increment Financing.
The big project in the works for 2018 deals with Highway 77 from Industrial Row running all the way to Pickrell. The city’s responsibility stops at the corner of Hickory Road, and all of the construction will be performed by the state.
“That's a project that's designed, bid and managed by the Department of Transportation,” Tempelmeyer said. “We just get a bill from them telling us how much we owe them.”
Because the one and six-year plan is flexible, some things do get pushed back for years before being completed, Tempelmeyer said. The projects at Bell and Summit streets have been on the street plan for at least 10 years, he said, and have been pushed back due to funding or other priorities.
Bigger projects tend to get pushed out a few years to give the city a chance to get a handle on fitting them into the budget and breaking them down into more manageable pieces, Tempelmeyer said.
For example, in the sixth year of the current street plan, The only project listed is 19th Street from Court to Lincoln streets. Though that's the only item on the list for 2023, it’s a big one.
That project involves a major road that needs to be rebuilt, Tempelmeyer said. Doing the concrete reconstruction will run about $900,000 and the ADA-compliant curb ramps will be another $100,000. And there’s more that needs to be done.
“Well, when you're there, we know that (there) are has some issues with flooding when it rains hard,” he said. “So, in order for us to put in the storm water that we need to put in, you need to do it at the same time you do the street projects. The diameter of the pipe is five or six feet in diameter, if I'm going to put that in, I have to take out part of the street, so it makes sense to do it at the same time you're putting the street in.”
Putting all those parts together, the project ends up costing about $3 million. Working out the logistics of it will take some time.
“Now, we'll look at that project and say, 'how do we break this into pieces so we can do part over the next couple of years and get that street repaved?'” Tempelmeyer said.
The street plan goes to the Beatrice City Council this upcoming Monday for approval.
Gage County residents eligible for a homestead exemption on their property taxes have until June 30 to file an application.
Gage County Assessor Patricia Milligan said property owners who were granted an exemption last year will automatically get an application in the mail next week.
“What we do is go through our list and we find out which ones have not filed and call that person up or write them a letter,” Milligan said. “We do everything we can. The only thing is, we don’t know which ones are out there that turned 65.”
Workers with her department are willing to visit residents who need assistance, if they contact the assessor’s office and request it.
The Nebraska Homestead Exemption application, or certification Form 458, provides relief from property taxes by exempting all or a portion of the taxable value of the residence. The state of Nebraska reimburses counties and other governmental subdivisions for the property taxes lost due to homestead exemptions.
In Nebraska, a homestead exemption is available to people over the age of 65, qualified disabled individuals and qualified disabled veterans and their widows.
Some categories are subject to household income limitations and residence valuation requirements. The income limitations are on a sliding scale.
Milligan said home valuation is also a factor in the exemptions.
“You can be approved on your income, however, if your house is getting up over $200,000, then some of those are disapproved because your house value is too high,” she said. “…There is a cutoff and then you pay on the remainder.”
She estimated that around 1,200 property owners in Gage County qualify for homestead exemptions, which are reimbursed by the state, and that the number of exemptions applied for is staying consistent.
“We’re staying about the same because people are working past the age of 65 now,” she said. “You see it more with the people closer to the 70s. If you still have a job, it’s pretty hard to get the homestead exemption.”
Rob Schafer is seeking another term on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Schafer holds the district 5 seat, and was elected to the Board of Regents in 2014 after being appointed to the position in 2013.
“The University of Nebraska is among the premier institutions for higher education and research in the nation,” Schafer said in a press release. “With hard work and a focused mission, we can grow the university and its substantial contribution to Nebraska’s economic future. My commitment is to keep tuition affordable for Nebraskans, grow public-private partnerships with far-reaching benefits, and advance the University’s commitment to agriculture and rural Nebraska.”
Schafer’s district on the board includes 16 Nebraska counties: Butler, Cass, Clay, Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Nemaha, Nuckolls, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Saline, Seward, Saunders and Thayer, plus northwest Lancaster County, including a portion of the city of Lincoln.
“As a farmer, attorney, veteran and University of Nebraska graduate, I bring a unique set of experiences to the Board,” he said in the press release. “For five years, I’ve used my experience to strengthen the university. I’ve voted to keep tuition affordable and supported changes making the University more accessible and affordable for Nebraska’s veterans.”
Schafer, 50, is the managing partner at Smith, Schafer, Davis and Geartig, a law firm in Beatrice. He is a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard and serves as a Lieutenant Colonel and Staff Judge Advocate for the 155th Air Refueling Wing. He also owns and operates a farm in Pawnee County, raising corn, soybeans and wheat. Schafer, a cattle owner, is also a member and director of a swine operation in Iowa.
He is a lifelong and sixth generation Nebraskan. Schafer is a graduate of Pawnee City High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a bachelor degree in business administration and a law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law. Schafer lives in Beatrice with his wife, Andrea, a vice president at Pinnacle Bank and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and their two young daughters, Brooklyn and Addison.
Schafer is a member of several state and local organizations, including Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, American Legion Post 39, Beatrice Chamber of Commerce, Beatrice Rotary Club and St. John Lutheran Church.