Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 23 March 2010 18:20
Hillsboro City Council members expressed interest at their March 16 meeting in providing training for volunteers serving on city boards, but asked for more time to consider the form and expense of it.
City Administrator Larry Paine had proposed hiring a professional consultant to lead a seminar on boardsmanship, perhaps on a Saturday.
The consultant, Mike Conduff, is president and chief executive officer of The Elim Group, based in Denton, Texas. Paine indicated he had distributed Conduff’s book, “The On Target Board Member,” as a resource for council members.
Paine presented a proposal from The Elim Group, indicating his interest in hiring Conduff for a one-day seminar, plus a year of e-mail or phone coaching with city officials. The cost of the seminar was projected at $2,750 and the cost of coaching was $750.
Paine wrote in a memo to council members that he and Mayor Delores Dalke believed training in effective board participation would be helpful after “observing the performance of several boards and commissions under the city’s umbrella.”
He wrote, “There are signs of problems within the boards and their staff support personnel.”
Paine said volunteers are appointed to city boards with little or no orientation, nor with a clear definition of the board’s job description.
During the council’s discussion of the proposal, Paine did not name a specific board, but indicated the typical problem is the frequent involvement of board members in the details of a program rather than the appropriate role of setting general policy. Carrying out the day-to-day details is the staff member’s responsibility, he said.
Council members seemed to support the idea of training, but raised questions about the best way to accomplish it.
Councilor Kevin Suderman said before the city spends significant money to hire a professional consultant, he would like more information about the nature of the issues that are causing problems.
Paine said he could provide that information via one-to-one phone calls to council members.
Councilor Byron McCarty wondered if volunteers would turn out on a Saturday for a training seminar. Paine said they would be strongly encouraged to attend.
A decision on the proposal was deferred until at least the next council meeting, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 6.
During his report to the council, Paine explained why Hillsboro was not listed as one of the plaintiffs in the recently filed class-action lawsuit against Syngenta, the manufacturers of atrazine, a popular herbicide used by farmers.
The attorneys from Baron & Budd who filed the suit in Illinois, told Paine they would leave Hillsboro’s name off the suit until the council had competed its review of its decision a year ago to join the action.
Paine said the attorneys told him it would be easier to add Hillsboro’s name to the suit if the council affirmed its earlier decision than to remove the name if the council decided to reverse its decision.
The council planned to meet in an executive session “for lawyer-client privilege” March 23 with representatives from Baron & Budd to discuss the issues related to the action. The suit alleges that level of atrazine allowed by the government in public water systems is unsafe.
If the court would find in favor of the suit, Hillsboro and other defendants would receive financial compensation that would help the cities pay for necessary filters for their existing system to remove the contaminant chemical.
In other business, the council:
• accepted the insurance renewal proposal from IMA Financial Group with a total premium of $44,687 for the coming year, an increase of just under 2 percent.
IMA provides coverage for city property, general liability, employee benefit liability, public officials errors and ommission and law-enforcement liability.
• heard from Paine that repairs, estimated to cost $5,000 to $6,000, will be needed to fix a grader being used for dirt work in Hillsboro Business Park.
• heard from Paine that City Attorney Dan Baldwin is moving forward with legal procedures alleging breech of contract by Carruthers Construction for failing to make needed repairs under warranty on the aquatic center.
• authorized Paine to move ahead with the bidding process for work at Hillsboro Business Park needed to prepare for the start of construction of Midway Motors’ new facility.
• approved a liquor license for American Legion Post 366, which includes a $250 fee.
• reappointed Paine as the city’s representative to the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency board.