Scottsbluff Council approves earmarking funds for lead paint abatement

Panhandle Area Development District Community and Regional Planner Megan Koppenhafer addresses the Scottsbluff City Council at Monday night's meeting.

SCOTTSBLUFF — The Scottsbluff City Council approved earmarking a portion of an anticipated Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Grant to help fund a county-wide lead abatement grant Monday.

The council also received updates from staff on a number of ongoing projects and discussed two potential occupation taxes that would involve fireworks and hotels.

Panhandle Area Development District and Panhandle Public Health District are partnering to apply for the Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program through the office of lead hazard control and healthy homes. The grant would provide $1 million in funds to abate lead in the homes of families with children under the age of 6 within Scotts Bluff County.

As part of the grant, a 10% match is required, and Monday’s action allows the City of Scottsbluff to put funds toward that $100,000 match pending the approval of the Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Grant. PADD Community and Regional Planner Megan Koppenhafer told the council that Morrill has already committed to help with the matching funds. PADD and PPHD would have four years to spend the $1 million grant. Any funds remaining would have to be paid back to the department of Housing and Urban Development. The $100,000 match is required regardless of whether the $1 million is fully spent.

Public Works Director Mark Bohl updated the council regarding a number of ongoing projects, including a proposed regional landfill project in conjunction with the City of Gering. Bohl said that as of now, a proposal to attempt to purchase property south of Morrill in the Bald Peak area is off the table.

“After looking at the topography, it probably wasn’t a good idea,” he said.

The two cities will continue to seek out sites within a 45-mile radius, but Bohl said the next step is likely to be a memo sent to landowners asking if they have a location they would like to have evaluated rather than the cities trying to select a certain property and try to make it fit. He said staff would like to see a site location move forward sooner rather than later.

“What we don’t want is to have the life of our current landfill gone before we have a new site,” Bohl said.

The council held discussion about a possible tax of 5% on firework sales within the city. Council directed staff to come back with possible revenue numbers before any move is made to approve a new ordinance. The tax would be the first of its kind in the state.

Scottsbluff’s current hotel occupancy tax is at 4%, and the council has directed staff to come back with an ordinance to increase that tax to 8% and provide language earmarking the funds from the tax to be used for recreational expenses, such as parks and completion of the 18th Street Plaza.

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