Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 14 August 2012 12:48
At a special meeting Monday, the Hillsboro City Council approved the 2013 budget as published—but not without revisiting some qualms related to the future of the local economy.
Next year’s budget will require a tax rate of 40.975 mills, which is 1.274 mills higher than the final version of the 2012 budget, but below the 41 mills the council approved a year ago and targeted again for this year.
During the mandatory public hearing prior to the budget vote, resident Vince Driver cautioned the council about the ongoing difficulty of the economy, which will be exacerbated by a drought this summer that will reduce income for many people, not just farmers.
“Things need to be reduced as much as possible,” Driver said. “I guess my question is, is there anything that we don’t absolutely need?”
Mayor Delores Dalke responded, “We’re trying to hold the line, and there are other taxing entities that could be talked to at the same time, but that’s where this budget is.”
After Dalke reviewed the published version, Driver asked whether the budget contained a wage increase. He was told the council had authorized a 2 percent increase after foregoing an increase the past few years.
“There’s a whole lot of people who aren’t getting a 2 percent raise,” Driver responded. “Why should the city get a 2 percent raise?”
Dalke said the published budget defines the highest amount of money a city is legally allowed to spend and the highest amount it can set the tax levy. She added, though, that a city can always spend less than what it has budgeted.
When comments from some council members seemed to suggest a willingness to look at additional cuts, Dalke reminded them that all had agreed at the July 24 meeting to target the tax rate at 41 mills.
City Administrator Larry Paine said the state requests that cities report their budgets by Aug. 25, but the deadline could be stretched “without heat” if council members wanted more time to review the numbers.
In the end, councilors Bob Watson, Shelby Dirks and Byron McCarty voted to approve the budget as published, but council member Marlene Fast abstained.
Under the rules of order, an abstention is counted with the majority for a final 4-0 vote.
August 7 agenda
At its Aug. 7 meeting, the council approved the construction of a new valley gutter at the intersection of West B Street and Floral Drive at a cost of $4,170.
The new valley gutter will provide smoother entry for vehicles than the makeshift intersection that has provided access to West B, a gravel street, from hard-surface Floral.
Currently, vehicles essentially have to jump the gutter-curb that was poured when Floral Drive was created and before Pine Street was added.
Steve Schroeder, a resident of Pine, spoke for the neighborhood when he thanked the council for its decision.
Dale Dalke, street superintendent, said the new valley gutter will be adequate to serve a hard-surface version of Pine, should it be constructed in the future.
Mary Regier, chair of the Hillsboro Museums advisory board, updated the council on the tours of the Adobe House and Schaeffler House led by volunteers since May 26.
Regier said 10 tours, accounting for 95 people, were conducted at the Adobe House, while four tours involving 51 people occurred at the Schaeffler House. The tours generated $303 in admission revenue.
Fifty-four of the tourists came from Kansas, but Texas, California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Idaho and Iowa also were represented. International origins included Germany, New Zealand and Canada.
Regier said the local Convention and Visitors Bureau contributes $25 per tour to compensate the guides.
Hearing that the museum charges only $3 for admission, Councilor Marlene Fast encouraged the advisory board to consider raising the fee “to at least $5” for the amount of knowledge that participants receive.
The tour leaders included David Brown, Raymond Wiebe, Peggy Goertzen and Regier.
In other business, the council:
• approved paying an invoice of $264,571 to Vogts-Parga Construction for work completed on the replacement of North Ash Street.
• approved paying an invoice of $247,913 to LaFarge Construction for work completed on the replacement of First Street between Adams and Ash streets.
• approved paying an invoice of $19,375 to Evans, Bierly & Hutchison for engineering work completed on the two street projects.
• met in executive session for personnel.