The Ralston City Council discussed the following items at its Sept. 1 meeting:
• Ralston Police Chief Ron Murtaugh announced that the annual Wine Walk will be on Sept. 24 at 5 p.m.
• Ralston Volunteer Fire Department Chief Carrie Wagner announced that there will be a controlled burn on Saturday. For the burn, Q Street from 80th to 82nd streets will be closed off from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Road blocks will be in place.
•Ralston Arena general manager Stan Benis announced that Kenny Rodgers will bring his Christmas show to the arena this year, but a definite date has not been set. He also said LeAnn Rimes will bring her 2016 Christmas show to the arena.
• Mayor Don Groesser read the proclamation for Sept. 20 to be Youth Bowler Day.
• Approval of a special designated liquor license for the Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce to hold its second annual Great Ral-Stein Festival of Beer on Oct. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.
• The first reading and public hearing of Ord. 1199 to institute a 2.5 percent restaurant tax in the City of Ralston.
The tax is identical to the City of Omaha’s.
“This one will work in exactly the same manner,” City Attorney Mark Klinker said.
• During public comments, Ralston residents expressed concern over recent news of the Ralston Arena losing money.
Both Steve Bode and William Henderson, Ralston residents, requested a monthly update on the profit and loss at the arena.
Groesser wanted to reassure residents that any worry of bond payments being late isn’t true.
“We’re paying our bonds,” he said. “We haven’t defaulted on anything. We’re moving right along.
Nebraska Senator Merv Riepe took to the podium to speak about his work with Groesser in the Legislature.
He shared that they have prioritized LB-285 to expand the turnback tax radius from 600 feet to 1,000 feet and it will be heard in January 2016, though he is nervous about it being approved.
“It’s tough,” Riepe said. “It’s really tough because there isn’t enough revenue to go around.”
Ralston resident Rich Shively said that Ralston residents need to start supporting what they voted for years ago.
“If you don’t want those taxes to go up, start attending some of those events down there,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in Ralston I’ve never seen there.”
• Councilman Steve Alberhasky said he was happy with the amount of people in attendance, a larger than usual crowd of about 40 people, and encouraged them to continue to come.
• Council president cleared up comments about a possible 34 percent tax increase at a budget meeting in August.
“It’s truly unfortunate that we weren’t clear tonight. A scenario got laid out and that’s the scenario that got picked up,” Krause said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t a scenario we were willing to accept. We’ll take the partial blame — I will for not clarifying that and for that becoming such a big deal to everyone. That kind of publicity hurts us.”
• Councilman Michael Sanchez informed those in attendance that the council members don’t make decisions lightly.
“These people on this stage care an incredible amount about this city,” he said. “We are working very, very diligently to make the best possible decisions.”
• Groesser also apologized for worrying residents with a 34 percent tax raise.
“It’s my responsibility and the responsibility of the council to look at these scenarios,” Groesser said. “I’m sorry it got picked up the way it did. And I also take responsibility of not making it clearer that it was a work session.”
- Katherine Leszczynski