Kearney Arch to seek $75K annually for next three years from council - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:24 am
Kearney Arch to seek $75K annually for next three years from council

KEARNEY, Neb. — The Great Platte River Road Archway Foundation will ask the Kearney City Council on Tuesday to help fund operations for the next three years.

The proposal would give the city direct oversight of archway operations.

On Tuesday, the council will consider a request for the city to provide $75,000 a year for the next three years to be used for the arch's operational costs.

“Once you ask for money from the city, we feel obligated to be very involved and evaluate costs,” City Manager Mike Morgan said Friday. If council members vote to approve the request, keno funds would be granted to the archway.

No city taxes would be diverted to the project, Morgan said.

The city would take over maintenance of the grounds and have control of operations. The agreement would require the archway to present an annual budget to the city. The council also would appoint a new member to the foundation and start operations and marketing committees.

A September judgment from a bankruptcy court relieved the archway of its financial burdens by eliminating all but $200,000 of debt. That debt has been paid, according to archway foundation chairman Joel Johnson, and operating costs have been slashed from $1.1 million to $770,000 with the help of the city.

Morgan said the city already negotiated an insurance rate for the archway about $150,000 lower than it had been in previous years. Morgan said this is an example of how guidance from the city could help pull the ailing archway back from the brink.

Morgan said the city could look into additional ways to use parts of the building not dedicated to the museum and to use the grounds on both sides of the Platte River.

Council Vice President Randy Buschkoetter said he feels strongly that something should be done to help the archway but isn't sure that the help will be enough to save it.

“It's a tough decision because if it closes, that is going to create another set of problems,” Buschkoetter said. “However it comes to them, a large part of me thinks that money could be better spent somewhere else.”

Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse and council members Jonathan Nikkila and Bruce Lear expressed similar thoughts. They say they won't make a decision until they have all the facts Tuesday.

Council member Bob Lammers couldn't be reached for comment.

The item will come before the council with a number of stipulations. For example, the Buffalo County Board must agree to match funding.

If council members approve the request, but the county board does not, the city will retract its approval of the funding.

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