Hastings City Council approves budget on second reading

Local4 News at 11:30
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 10:54 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 10:26 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The deadline to turn in city budgets is closing in for the City of Hastings.

The new fiscal year begins on October 1 and Hastings still needs to get its multimillion dollar budget approved.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, council members voted five to three to approve the annual budget bill on second reading, along with four other ordinances increasing rate for electric, natural gas, water and adjusting rates for solar farm customers.

They approved it on first reading back on September 11.

The council will have to meet again on Wednesday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the library to vote on the budget a final time.

During Monday’s hearing, the council continued its discussion the budget and was left divided. There were arguments and disagreements within council and from some in attendance.

Hastings Mayor Corey Stutte said there’s a focus this year on creating a maintenance department. But a few of his colleagues spoke against the idea of increasing the budget and adding another department.

One council member would like to see them cut spending. Others said they don’t have a lot of knowledge about what the budget would look like.

Mayor Stutte explained why having a maintenance department is needed.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the past several years whether it’s city hall, whether it’s one of our other many building that we have,” said Stutte. “We’re going to make sure that we’re able to maintain the buildings as they are now and make sure that they’re kept in great conditions.

He said the infrastructure for a maintenance department is there and it’s the best way to improve the city without costing taxpayers more money.

“We already have those people in place,” said Stutte. “We have several people on staff already. We are looking at a $300,000 increase to increase the staffing in the maintenance department.”

Stutte said taxes won’t be raised to make this happen, but that didn’t sway any opinions. Locals were happy about the council’s decision to renovate city hall.

“I think it gives you the best for your dollar spent,” said Roger Coffman, Hastings resident. “You know, you get a return on your investment; instead of tearing it down and starting all over again.”

Coffman said he has been involved with the Community Redevelopment Authority over 10 years. He said the goal should be to save buildings and find a new purpose for them.

When there were talks of demolishing the building, he decided to reach out to the community and educate them on the benefits of saving the building, it was unanimously approved.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the budget did not pass. In fact, it did pass on a vote of 5 to 3 on second reading.