City to split cost of rehab with the school district

      The City of Elkhorn Common Council voted unanimously in favor of approving improvements to Elkhorn’s Colt Field, located near the high school, as part of an intergovernmental agreement with the Elkhorn Area School District.

      Colt Field has been described as being in very poor condition by City of Elkhorn Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Ard. Additionally, though the field is used by the high school, city officials said the field is owned by the city and used frequently for city programming.

      As the field was in need of repairs and used by the school district, City Administrator Sam Tapson had said during an August 11 City of Elkhorn Finance and Judicial Committee meeting that the Elkhorn Area School District had expressed willingness to enter into an intergovernmental agreement to reimburse the City for costs to improve the field on a 10-year repayment schedule.

      Tapson said during Monday’s Council meeting that the agreement prepared by City Attorney Ward Phillips has been shared with district personnel, including the administrator and finance director, and personnel are currently comfortable with the agreement, though final approval is required of the districts board of education.

      According to Tapson, while approving the agreement is important, what was key Monday night was approving the project, which he said would cost the city about $87,000 currently.

      “That needs to move fairly soon, like within the next week,” he said.

      Tapson said if the city was committed to the project, regardless of whether the district votes to reimburse or not, the city should approve the project and begin to move forward.

      “We’ve made the point, I think, in the past, that this is something that is our field, we own it, we have a burden, if you will, a responsibility to maintain it,” he said. “We’ve seen it, we’ve talked about it, it needs to get done or it needs to not get done. We need a decision.”

      Alderman James D’Alessandro asked councilmembers if it would be wise to approve the project contingent on the school board’s approval.

      Tapson said problems could arise from that type of situation as if the school board doesn’t approve the agreement right away, they could be “outside of the window” of being able to have the field improved and playable for the spring season.

      “And let’s be clear, the city owns the field and the field needs to be repaired regardless,” Alderman Scott McClory said.

      “In a good faith, ethical handshake kind of agreement, the school board, I think they are going to pay over the next ten years. They haven’t formally voted on it, but there’s nothing right now that lends itself to the fact that they’re not going to honor the agreement, verbally.”

      Mayor Brian Olson said in conversation with school district officials it has been “relayed and clear” that they don’t see an issue with the agreement as it stands.

      Alderman Gary Payson, Sr., made a motion to approve the agreement between the city and school district and received a second from McClory. The vote was unanimous for approval.

Paying for improvement

      Additionally, Payson made a motion to approve the improvement project, awarding the project to Midwest Athletic Fields at a cost of $86,650.

      D’Alessandro asked where the funds would be coming from at this point in time.

      Tapson said the project will be paid for out of the city’s Capital Improvement Fund.

      Olson asked once the agreement between the two governmental bodies was official, whether the money would have to go back to the Finance and Judicial Committee for a budget adjustment for Public Works for operation costs.

      Tapson said as the money is repaid by the district, it would go back into the Capital Improvement Fund, as typical with a “intergovernmental agreement with a loan attachment,” though it doesn’t mean the funds are locked in there.

      “You can move reserves at from any fund at any time through a vote of the council…so long as you do it right,” he said. “That’s the origin, that’s the source, that’s where the funds should go back.”

      The council approved the project unanimously with the funds being taken from the Capital Improvement Fund.


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