The Roundup -

Sidney Continues To Make Infrastructure Improvements As Year Transitions

 

December 26, 2018 | View PDF

Heated air is bubbled through the phase 2 treatment cells to keep the bacteria healthy at the new waste water lagoon. (Photo by Jaymi Loobey)

Sidney has had a busy year of infrastructure improvement to utilities and highways, and there's likely more to come in 2019. The Roundup reached out to Rick Norby, the mayor of Sidney, to talk about past and present projects and what to expect over the course of the next year.

Mayor Norby reported, "We did a water and sewer rate increase. We're heading into phase three in the lagoon project. We've bonded a little under nine million on phase two. Phase two was the initial building of the water treatment plant itself, both the buildings and the pond. That's completed and we've been using them about a year and a half. But now we're into phase three, which is the pump station and will run close to eight million dollars. It's currently bonded through the state. We're very proud of that, and that's something that's happened while I've been mayor."

Norby explained the reason for water rate increases, andwhat it was accomplishing.

Norby said, "You can look at our water rate increases. The biggest problem over the last 30 or 40 years is that Sidney has got by with really good maintenance and now it's getting worn out. We have a bunch of projects spread over a five-year period to help this issue."

"When I became mayor," Norby continued, "or even joined the city council in 2008, your combined sewer and water rates were about $18 dollars combined. When we're done, on the sewer side we'll be right where the state wants us to be. They want us to be at about $105, but when we get done we'll be at about $72, which is quite a ways below that. I'm quite proud of that."

Norby asserted that past water lines were going to fail if not fixed.

"We were sitting at a point that some of those water lines were from the early 1900s. We had to do something. We have to start managing the city so we don't have to worry about the future and getting it done over night and costing us an arm and a leg."

He continued, "The biggest thing for me, being mayor over the last five years, is being able to get an additional gas tax. That will bring in an extra $140 thousand dollars extra a year, and that will help us maintain a lot of streets in town. We're trying to fix little parts of streets and that's our main goal with that money going forward."

Norby also explained that there will be at least one additional stoplight in Sidney, the latest in a spurt of added stoplights over the last decade.

Norby said, "We're also going to get a safety light on 12th street by the fire department. It's going to be a full-fledged stoplight. That way, we'll have access when we enter with both the ambulances and fire trucks that can change the light, so they don't get in trouble there."

There are also commercial improvements to the city, Norby suggested. One of these includes a new retail store.

"And then there's lots of commercial improvements. There's Dominos and Burger King. There's a lot of discussion about the dollar store coming in. Right now, they're purchasing land in the Sunrise Subdivision. We have not seen anything in the office here yet, but they're in negotiations with that. That will be nice to have in our community, too."

Norby said that the projects would need to continue, claiming, "The biggest thing for us is just trying to get our infrastructure up to date. At one time, we were talking about building a new water treatment plant, but I think we're okay on that right now. There are probably six or seven projects we need to do just to keep up with the times. Our primary goal in the upcoming legislation session is to get the county to keep its oil revenue, but also to get back some of what the city lost in years previous."

When asked about whether or not the new roundabout was popular with residents, Norby responded, "I've heard both sides. I think it's just a matter of people getting used to it. Safety wise, it's very important. To me, it was a proper thing to do but should've been done many years ago."

 

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