The Seward City Council held a public hearing and budget summary Sept. 3.

Before the public hearing the council tabled approval of the final plat and dedication use of Karol Kay Boulevard, Bader to Hillcrest, and consideration of a resolution to authorize the city attorney to initiate eminent domain proceedings for acquisition of easements for Karol Kay Boulevard, Bader to Hillcrest project. 

Mayor Josh Eickmeier explained that the two council members from Ward One, Jessica Kolterman and Ellen Beck, had asked to table. 

“The item had to do with all of the right of ways to be dedicated for this that the city owns and I know that there is some confusion as to whether that impacted other right of ways, but this was only ours, but in order to keep clean we were going to table that,” Eickmeier said.  “Item 12 had to do with the eminent domain. My understanding was with conversations with the council women from the ward that they wanted to have a meeting and to be briefed on where things stood.”

During the public hearing Linda Gierke, a Seward resident, asked the board some questions regarding line items in the budget. 

Gierke asked the board about money related to the Karol Kay street project. 

“An item that said Karol Kay paving and storm sewer project, is that related to the Karol Kay extension or is that something different? The amount spent was $124,000 and the next budget year is for $10,000 so I’m confused about what that refers to,” she said.

City Administrator Greg Butcher explained that the amount is what was paid for this past year on the project and the $10,000 was a recommended additional coverage if there were to be any additional charges. 

Gierke asked more questions regarding street projects such as clarifications on East Hillcrest Drive improvements and about the fracture critical bridge on Hillcrest. 

“I had a question on the Hillcrest bridge inspection,” Gierke said. “I understand that has been declared a critically fractured bridge which means one of the spans is cracked therefore it falls into the inspection every other year and I know that the state said they would help pay for it one time and then you were responsible for that inspection every other year to $5,000-7,000 right?”

City Engineer Jake Vasa said she was correct that an inspection would need to take place and costs roughly $5,000-$7,000 but explained that a fracture critical bridge does not mean the bridge is cracked. It just has a higher potential to crack than other bridges built in the city.   

“It’s a fracture critical bridge because it has it has a steel member intention, that’s the reason, doesn’t mean there’s a crack,” Vasa said. 

Lastly there was some confusion about the engineering budget. Gierke asked why the price had jumped from $4,000 in 2016-2017 to $140,000 this past year. 

Butcher thought Gierke was referencing roads, but soon realized the jump was because of a one-time cost for a levee. 

“The $140,000 - that’s a one-time engineering cost to re-accredit the levee, so that’s a one-time project, we’re done,” he said. “We’re still undertaking that project, and they are working on it right now. That is technically done by Street, but we don’t put it under Street because we cannot use street funds from the state, the feds or anybody else to expend it on the levee even though it’s the street department.”

Gierke was the only member of the public to speak during the public hearing. 

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