Published On: Thu, Sep 19th, 2013

Supervisors to defend refund decision to school

CENTER — Knox Co. Supervisors voiced their disappointment with regulations that accompany Federal Emergency Management grant funds and agreed to attend a school board meeting to explain a decision made by the board members concerning refunds during the Sept. 12 Knox Co. meeting.

Two representatives from JEO, Lalit Jha and Jeff Hansen, spoke to board members about updating the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

“The Hazard Mitigation Plan has to be updated every five years,” Jha said. “It takes about two years to do the work. There are funds available to help with the cost.”

For the basic update, if the county works with two other counties, the cost would be one-third of $70,000.

An application can be made for grant fund which would help pay the cost.

The Hazard Mitigation Plan needs to be updated or the county may not be eligible for disaster funds, according to Jha.

“You need to have a plan in place or a plan would need to be done when you apply for the disaster funds,” Jha said.

JEO also has an Advanced Plan that can be developed along with the update and used for projects that may be eligible for FEMA funds.

Board members voiced their disappointment with obtaining grants through FEMA.

“Getting FEMA funds for a project involves requirements that up the cost of the project. It actually costs less to do the project if you don’t go with FEMA,” Supervisor Jim Fuchtman said.


Board members agreed to pursue a grant which will be used for just a basic update for the Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Knox County board members have been asked to attend a Verdigre School Board meeting and explain why refunds are being made on taxes that involve the school district.

Several board members agreed to attend the Oct. 2 meeting.

Board members really did not have any other choice according Fuchtman

“We recognized with the judge’s ruling that an error was made,” Fuchtman said. “If we did not except the court document then we could have faced a lawsuit.”

Board members had made the initial decision Aug. 8 to give refunds on close to 100 claims that had been filed. Board members had asked County Attorney John Thomas to look at a judge’s order that came out of Antelope County District Court before making the decision.

Nebraska Unified School District No. 1 – made up of Clearwater, Orchard and Verdigre schools – had been found to be in violation of the Nebraska Budget Act regarding the levy authority. The budget error involved the Verdigre School Bond. The judges’ order was affirmed by the Nebraska Court of Appeals last year.

Board members had agreed to give refunds on any additional claims filed with the next three years.

Board members took action to issue an additional tax refund on the Verdigre School bond during the Sept. 12 meeting.

The request, which had been received from Dennis and Lori Pierce, was the second request for a refund since the initial decision was made.

The August Building Permit Report included permits for a sign renewal, feed shed, pole shed, storage shed addition, water tank platform, barn, home addition/garage, home addition/deck, home addition; permits for two machine sheds, two garages, two homes; permits for three mobile homes; and nine permits for bins.

The renewal report showed a valuation total of $1,008,950 for the month along with $620 paid for fees and $775 paid for late fees.