Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2013

Improvements planned for fairgrounds

CENTER — Knox County Supervisors turned down a request from the Northeast Community College for a $50,000 donation, approved a budget for the Ag Society that will bring in a little over $24,000 more in taxes than last year’s amount and reached a lease agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services during the Aug. 29 Supervisor meeting.

Board members denied a request that had previously been made by the Northeast Community College, Norfolk.

Board members decided against making a contribution which would be used for the construction of a new facility at the college’s extended campus in O’Neill.

The building that is currently being used as an education center in O’Neill was built in 1938 and is being leased.

Representatives from Northeast Community College had previously asked board members for a commitment of $50,000 which would be paid over a five-year period.

Counties, businesses and organizations had been asked to help fund the $2.5 million project

The request was taken to nine county boards before budget setting time.

Board members discussed the request before making a decision.

Supervisor Jim Fuchtman questioned “why one tax entity would give to another tax entity?”

“The college is already getting a large amount of taxes from this county,” Supervisor Rayder Swanson said.

Jerry Nipp, Knox Co. Ag Society secretary and Fair Manager met with board members concerning the budget for the Ag Society.

Nipp asked if the tax levy could stay the same for the Ag Society even though the assessed value for Knox County has increased by $303.8 million.

Last year’s levy for the Ag Society brought in close to $92,750 in taxes. This year’s request is for a little over $117,000 in taxes. The levy will bring in close to $24,300 more in taxes than last year.

A number of improvements were made at the fairgrounds during the last year according to Nipp.

The cost for additional improvements was included in the proposed budget for the Ag Society.

Funds will be used to restore the octagon building that is near the entrance to the fairgrounds, some landscaping will be done in order to get water to drain away from the buildings and some new trees will be put in.

“We like to bring in 15-18 ft tall trees so we can get the benefit from trees now,” Nipp said.

Work also needs to be done on the extra facilities for campers that were installed.

“We have had to turn campers away in the past – we can only house 35,” Nipp said. “We put in facilities for eight more campers. The conduit is buried but we have to do the wiring and finish the work.”

After discussing the request, Board members voted to approve the resolution for the budget and keep the levy at the same amount.

Nipp thanked the Supervisors for working with the budget that had been submitted.

“We wanted to see the levy stay the same,” Nipp said. “If you want to put on a quality fair the cost keeps going up.”

The Department of Health and Human Services will continue to lease office space at the Knox County Courthouse complex.

Amir Azimi and Greg Hood, employees from the Department of Health and Human Service met with county board members. An agreement was reached on a seven-year lease for office space in Annex Two.

Health and Human Services will continue to pay $15 per sq ft for a portion of the building. The agreement includes a 180-day notice clause for termination of the contract.

Board members agreed to install additional wiring, add a bathroom, a partition wall and a fire door.

The building was put up in 2005 with the intent for the Department of Health and Human Services to occupy the building. Health and Human Services made a drastic cut in staff at the Knox County site a few years ago.

Supervisor Rayder Swanson questioned Azimia and Hood on how the decision had worked out.

“How did the scenario for laying people off work out for you? You are now putting people back on after reducing the number of workers,” Swanson said.

There were a number of reasons why staff members are being replaced at the Knox County site, according to Azimi.

“People in some communities like to have face-to-face communication. Some communities also have an increased population that needs assistance,” Azimi said. “The number of employees depends on the case load.”

Azimi thanked the board members for making the request to have someone from the Department of Health and Human Service attend the Knox County meeting to discuss the lease arrangements.

“It is always good to have a face-to-face conversation. We are glad you invited us to come,” Azimi said.

Knox County approved an individual claim that has come in requesting a tax refund that involves a previous budget error on a Verdigre School Bond.

The request is the only additional claim that has been received since board members made the initial decision at the Aug. 8 meeting to give refunds on 96 claims that had been filed. The claims involve close to 500 parcels.

Board members had looked at a judge’s order that came out of Antelope County District Court concerning the Nebraska Unified School District No. 1, which is includes, Clearwater, Orchard and Verdigre Schools.

Board members will be giving refunds on any additional claims filed within the next three years.

County Board members denied a request for Hideway Acres to use the county’s patch truck for crack sealing repair.

Pat Birmingham had submitted the request.