Posted 3 weeks ago
By John Axtell
The Chadron City Council Monday night replenished some of the contingent reserve spent in the cleanup from the Winter Storm Atlas blizzard in October, but not until spending most of an hour in sometimes heated debate.
The storm cleanup used all but about $7,000 of the $150,000 budgeted for the contingent reserve this year, and City Manager Wayne Anderson proposed transferring $70,000 from the cash reserve…money not spent last year and carried over…to replace some of the spent funds.
Vice-Mayor Levi Grant strongly objected to the plan, saying the city “went through way, way, way too much money” on the storm and didn’t spend it well. Grant said that instead of seeking council approval first, Anderson spent funds on the storm and then brought the bills to the council…first asking for $100,000 and then upping the total to $150,000.
Grant called the cleanup “a frickin’ 100% disaster” that should have been stopped when the bill reached a preset point…such as $100,000. He said the city and each of its departments needs to live within its budget, responding to emergencies by making cuts in other parts of the budget.
Also complaining about the storm response and its cost was Grant’s wife Michelle, who told the council that she doesn’t discuss politics with her husband and was speaking for herself. She blamed the problems on poor management by Anderson.
Mrs Grant compared Anderson to his predecessor, Sandy Powell, who resigned under fire from a citizen group that backed the recall of then-Mayor John Chizek and Vice-Mayor Steve Duncan…Powell’s strongest supporters on the council. Mrs Grant said Chadron had “the same exact city manager as before but in pants.”
In a compromise, the council reduced the transfer amount to $25,000…enough to cover the remaining outstanding bills from the blizzard and leave a little less than $10,000 in the Contingent Reserve for other unexpected expenses over the rest of the fiscal year. It passed 4-1 with Grant the lone no vote.