NORFOLK, Neb. – The City of Norfolk has approved a donation to North Fork Area Transit for $150,000 if certain conditions are met.

The donation comes as a relief to the non-profit transit service who has been dealing with the fallout of embezzlement allegations against its ex-general manager.

NFAT also hopes to receive a $500,000 matching grant from the Johnny Carson Foundation, by fundraising the same amount.

However, in order to receive the city’s charity, three conditions must be met. The city will only donate when NFAT reaches $350,000 in its fundraising goal, which would guarantee the non-profit receives the matching grant from the JCF. They must also appoint a city council member on the volunteer board and terminate their original payment agreement with the city.

At last night's meeting, NFAT said they had raised up to $250,000 in donations.

Council Member Shane Clausen voiced his opinion saying the council had two options from his perspective. One option would be to say no to funding and let NFAT figure it out by themselves.

If the funding failed, however, Clausen saw the council needing to spend even more money (around $500,000) to get a completely new transit service for the city.

The second option would be to donate and help NFAT reach its goal at a lower cost, and have the system return in a smaller fashion. 

"I've wrestled with it really hard cause initially, I was really upset with this whole was such a major investment on our side,"  Clausen said. "We pointed fingers and blamed...we are a naive community, we're very caring...which is unfortunate because we (as a community) trusted him (Jeffery Stewart). He bamboozled them, I mean you can't get anyway around it."

Residents were also given an opportunity to speak during the meeting, all expressing the need for public transportation. However, while some were ready to give NFAT a second chance, others felt the city had done enough already.

"It sounds like there's been a lot of mismanagement as part of NFAT as well as potentially some theft," Norfolk resident Jim McKenzie said. "Do we have any magnitude of the losses? Do we have any idea if we give them another million dollars that they're going to be able to continue to operate? I just think there's a lot of risks." 

The measure was approved in a 5-1 vote, with Korey Hildebrand being the only council member in opposition. Council Members Justin Webb and Justin Snorton were absent from the meeting.