City Administrator Larry Paine told the Hillsboro City Council at its July 3 meeting that his latest draft of the city budget for 2013 would require a property-tax increase of nearly 9 mills to fund it.
The final draft of the 2013 budget will be presented at a public hearing set by the council for 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, in the council meeting room.
The initial response of council members indicated the final budget will not contain a 9-mill increase, which would be almost a 25 percent hike in the current rate.
Paine said council members will be the ones to decide the final outcome.
“Every year we go through this process,” Paine said. “This (draft of the expense budget) is the highest it’s going to get.
“My job is to put before you what employees think they need to do their job in the next fiscal year,” he added. “Then, it’s my job to take back to the employees what you think will be acceptable in order to do that job.”
Asked by Councilor Shelby Dirks to identify the key factors that would prompt the need for a 9-mill increase, Paine mentioned capital-outlay designations of nearly $22,000 in an equipment-replacement fund for a new fire truck, and nearly $21,000 for museum maintenance above the $16,000 designated for museums in the city’s general fund.
On the revenue side, Paine said Hillsboro’s valuation had actually decreased from around $16 million for 2012 to around $15 million for 2013. At the city’s current tax rate of 39.701 mills, the lower valuation would mean a reduction in revenue for the city of nearly $130,000.
Paine said the lower valuation may be due to a misunderstanding by county officials about how to value the city’s tax-increment financing project within Hillsboro Business Park.
“We’ll need to work on that,” he said.
During the budget discussion, Mayor Delores Dalke suggested the council review “the huge increase” designated for the fire department and clarify budgeting procedures between the city and the recreation commission.
“I’ve never understood which (expense) items get into the general budget for the Sports Complex and what is rec department,” she said.
By ordinance, the recreation department receives 1 mill—$15,432 in 2012—each year for its programs beyond the $85,880 designated this year in the general fund for the Sports Complex.
Potential street project
During his report to the council, Paine said city officials will be meeting with a representative from the South Central Kansas Economic Development District to discuss the possibility of securing a Community Development Block Grant to redo Commercial and Santa Fe streets in the Hillsboro Industrial Park.
“We needed some assistance on the part of a couple of businesses to play ball with us on that thing,” Paine said. “We’ve got some people who want to step up and do that.
“It all revolves around job creation,” he added, “and there’s conversation out there that they’re going to be adding jobs at one of the businesses.”
Paine said the combination of job creation and capital improvements for businesses “will give us the ratio we need for rebuilding that street.”
The block grant would authorize $35,000 for each job added, according to Paine. The cost to replace the asphalt portion of the streets with concrete was estimated to be $600,000.
He said the targeted portion of the streets is in bad condition.
“Right now, calling it a cattle path is generous.”
The council authorized the mayor to sign a contract for employee health insurance with Midwest Public Risk for 2012-13.
The council had intended to switch to Freedom 105, but Paine discovered that MPR requires a notice of withdrawal at least 90 days prior to the July 1 start of its fiscal year.
Paine said the city could choose to withdraw anyway, but MPR’s 25 percent premium penalty would exceed the potential savings the city would gain by switching companies.
He said the city has negotiated a discount in MPR’s premium increase of 4 to 10 percent over the current contract year.
Paine said MPR representatives came June 28 to brief city staff on upcoming changes and answer questions.
He and City Clerk Jan Meisinger then engaged in “a lively Q&A session” with the MPR representatives regarding the city’s issues with MPR’s administration of the plan.
“We came away with assurances they will address our concerns,” Paine said. “The real question will be in their follow through.”
Paine said the city will be asking for MPR’s next contract proposal in spring.
In other business, the council:
• authorized payment of $107,041 to LaFarge North America Inc. for construction work completed through June 25 to replace six blocks of First Street between Adams and Ash streets.
Paine said the effort to replace the 100 block of West First will be divided into two parts so the Postal Service truck will have access to the post office throughout the project.
• approved a change order with LaFarge to add $8,900 for wages and paperwork required by the Davis-Bacon Act for any project receiving CDBG funding.
The cost of the First Street project itself will be covered by a city bond, but the project is being used as the city’s cash match for a $400,000 CDBG that will be used to make improvements on Birch and Cedar streets in 2013.
The Davis-Bacon Act directs the U.S. Department of Labor to determine locally prevailing wage rates for specified tasks when federal money is involved.
• adopted the federal government’s civil rights and fair housing policy as another requirement for CDBG funding.
• authorized payment for a bill of $190,744 from Vogts-Parga Construction for work completed on the Adams Street project through June 26. Paine said the project is about 80 percent complete, with mostly dirt work remaining.
Paine told the council he is hopeful the Kansas Department of Transportation will approve the city’s request that the state construct turn lanes along U.S. Highway 56 at the Adams Street intersection. He said school bus drivers have expressed concern about safety at that intersection.
• authorized payment for an engineering bill from Evans, Bierly, Hutchison & Associates for $16,177 for work done on the Adams and First street projects.
• was informed via letter from William Morris, an architect with William Morris Associates in Augusta, that based on his inspection, Frederick Waterproofing & Roofing of Wichita has completed its contract for re-roofing and making interior repairs at the Schaeffler House.
The final contract for the project was $95,021, of which $84,261 has been paid with a grant, awarded in May 2009, from the Heritage Trust Fund of the Kansas State Historical Society. The city covered the remaining cost.
• heard from Paine that the city has established a temporary site for residents to dump yard waste while access to the permanent compost site is cut off because of the work on Adams Street. The temporary site is situated just south of the former AMPI building.
• agreed to postpone its July 17 scheduled meeting to June 24 so the city administrator would be able to participate.
• informally discussed, following adjournment, whether the council should enact an ordinance that would limit the number of garage sales a residence could host in a given year. The mayor asked the city administrator to add that topic to the agenda for the next meeting.
• informally discussed, following adjournment, a local fireworks seller promoting his business by referencing on Facebook his involvement in a fireworks show at a community block party July 3.
The city council had granted organizers of the block party permission to close off a portion of a public street for the fireworks show, but at the time the request was addressed, no mention was made of the local distributor’s involvement.