Council Approves Loan For Cleanup…Minus the Interest Charge

BEATRICE – The Beatrice City Council has approved borrowing money from the Beatrice Electric Department to assist a contamination cleanup, but amended the agreement to make it a zero-percent interest loan.

Last week, the Beatrice Board of Public Works approved the agreement for the electric department to loan up to $250,000 to the city, to help pay a roughly $700,000 bill for cleanup of contaminated soil near the Big Blue River.  That’s the former site of a coal gas plant.  The agreement approved by the BPW included a 1.75% interest rate.

:08                  “own money”

Councilman Rich Kerr was one of those objecting to interest on the loan.  So was Councilman Ted Fairbanks.

:24                  “just take it”

Mayor Stan Wirth says the loan with interest was a way to maintain autonomy between the city and public works departments.

:19                  “further operations”

It’s not clear whether the Board of Public Works will approve the loan, without the interest.  The electric department does have a current cash reserve of about $5 million.   The loan money comes from ratepayer funds, not general tax money.

The amended loan agreement, at zero-percent, passed the city council on a 5-2 vote, with one member absent from Monday night’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the cleanup of the former coal gas site is in progress, with City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer saying dirt is being hauled from the site near 1st and Market.  Some old tires have also been uncovered.  Tempelmeyer says a second, smaller cleanup site along railroad tracks may get moved up in the schedule.

:16                  “one year project”

One potential snag is a proposed major federal budget reduction by the Trump Administration for the Environmental Protection Agency…which could affect cleanup agreements.

:14                  “hopefully done”

The contamination cleanup of the primary site is expected to extend through June or July.

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