Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 12 March 2013 13:40
A group of about five residents living in the 100 block of South Washington and Lincoln streets asked the Hillsboro Council during its March 5 to change its snow-removal procedures.
The residents also asked the council to prohibit the use of fireworks in residential areas.
Joan Jost, spokesperson for the group, said the recent heavy snowfall had prevented residents from using their vehicles for up to three days because the alley between the two streets was not cleared.
She also said the high snow ridge that formed along the east curb of Washington when the street was cleared had made it difficult for visitors to park in front of the apartments that face the street.
Jost said the city should be required to clear alleys when they are the only access residents have to the street.
“We feel it’s the city’s job to do this for us,” Jost said.
She also asked the city do a better job of maintaining the alley, citing deep potholes and a lack of proper drainage.
On the topic of fireworks, Jost said a neighborhood show last July had resulted in “tons” of fireworks trash in the yards, roofs and rain gutters in the neighborhood.
Jost asked the city to designate an open area in town where residents can shoot their fireworks. She asked that shooting fireworks be prohibited in residential areas.
Mayor Delores Dalke thanked the group for expressing their concerns. She said the council would talk about possible solutions.
During a discussion session, City Administrator Larry Paine began a conversation about the future of the city’s sanitation department.
He said the expense of maintaining the city’s aging trash truck continues to rise. The truck has been used by the city for 10 to 12 years, he said, which is about twice the usual length of service. Repairs have amounted to more than $80,000 over the past five years.
Paine asked the council to begin thinking about the best direction for the city to take for trash removal. The initial decision will be whether the city should continue to do the work in-house or contract with an outside provider.
Paine said a new replacement truck would cost in the around $200,000. An advantage of in-house service, he said, is that the city could continue to provide “very consumer focused” service to residents, while a contracted provider likely would maintain a more rigid schedule.
He said the city’s sanitation department currently has two employees. It is possible that an outside contractor would hire them for a period of time.
If the city would opt for an outside provider, Paine said, the city would need to choose between manual or automated collection.
Paine emphasized the discussion is only in the beginning stages. More research and discussion is needed before making a decision.
Paine said the decision-making process may be as important as the decision itself.
“The decision has a lot to do with how the public reacts to what we do,” he said.
Paine did not suggest a timetable for a decision.
The council approved a resolution of support to advance a Wichita developer’s application to use tax credits to help finance a low income housing project in the city.
A letter from Kansas Housing Resources Corp., the entity responsible to administer the housing tax credit program, described the project at Third and Lincoln streets as “Vintage Apartments,” with 12 family-sized units.
The credit requirement was listed at just under $2.04 million. The developer was listed as Vintage Construction LLC of Wichita.
Council members expressed excitement about the project, saying that in addition to providing the city with much-needed affordable housing, the three four-plexes will be an attractive addition to the neighborhood and should benefit property values there.
In other business, the council:
• approved an updated version of the city’s water conservation plan. Morgan Marler, senior water treatment technician, said the update was requested by the Kansas Water Office. The original document was approved in 1999.
Councilor Byron McCarty raised the issue of enforcement if people refuse to follow the city’s water restrictions if the drought continues.
In response, Paine outlined the procedures the city would follow if someone defies the city’s regulations. The procedures are included in the water conservation plan.
• approved the mayor’s appointment of Brad Wiens to the Hillsboro Airport Board; he will replace Edith Darting, who has completed four terms.
• approved the appointment of Carrie Koons to the Salem Home Board; she will replace Alan Goldsby, who is moving out of town.