The Hillsboro City Council listened to the concerns of a rural neighbor at its Feb. 17 meeting partly with the hope that the public exposure would help rectify those concerns more quickly.
Clark Wiebe, who lives a half mile east of Hillsboro on 190th Street, said he has been concerned that APAC-Kansas, the contractor for the city’s sewer-lagoon project, has not addressed several project-related issues involving the agricultural land he owns along the east side of Jade Road and the south side of 190th.
APAC-Kansas installed two pressure sewer lines in what it determined to be the county easement along that stretch of Jade
Specifically, the issues include essentially eliminating a ditch between Jade and his land, the placement of two short but 5-foot-wide concrete silos that extend past the county easement line and infringe upon his private property.
The elimination of the ditch will cause erosion in his field in time of significant rainfall, Wiebe said, and the concrete “riser pipes” could damage his tenant’s farm equipment while working the land.
Wiebe said the crux of the problem was some disagreement regarding the exact location of the county easement line and his property line. He wished the company would have consulted him before doing the work.
City Administrator Larry Paine noted in a memo to the council that he and Wiebe have had several conversations about the issue “with the gist of my comments being we intend to have the contractor finish his work.”
Paine said the city has some financial leverage with the contractor because it is standard practice to withhold 10 percent of a contractor’s fee until all parties are satisfied that the work has been satisfactorily completed. In this case, the retainage amount is between $250,000 and $300,000.
Paine said if the contractor still does not respond, the city can put the firm on a statewide “No Bid List” that details the issues of dissatisfaction.
“Once this news gets out to other communities, getting bid awards will become more difficult,” Paine said.
He also said that inviting Wiebe to voice his concerns in a public meeting helps establish an official record of the disagreements in case the issue needs to be pursued further.
“By putting him on the agenda, we can leverage the politics of future work with APAC with the effort to get them to get the work done,” he said.
In addition to the dirt work required to restore the ditch, Wiebe asked for a lease agreement with the city that would account for enough private land around the two concrete silos to eliminate the threat to his tenant’s machinery.
At the conclusion of the discussion, council members voted to hang on to the retainage money until the work is completed, and to inform the contractor that putting the company on the “No Bid List” is an option if the concerns are not addressed in a timely manner.
Council members were asked by Paine to write individual letters of support to enhance a state grant application being developed by Stan Harder, director of Hillsboro Museums. The grant funds, if approved, would go toward replacing the roof of the Schaeffler House Museum.
Because the original roof is made of slate and must be replaced as it was established, the cost of the project is estimated to be $105,000.
Mayor Delores Dalke said the roof is in “horrible condition.”
“We really needed to have done it five years ago because the roof leaks and there are chances of damaging personal property that is stored in there and is part of that house,” Dalke said.
“If you drive by and look at the chimneys, it almost scares me that we are walking past that house all the time, particularly when we have events there,” she added. “There’s nothing to hold the bricks up there anymore, and on a windy day I can’t believe they haven’t blown down—other than the weight of them.”
This is the third time the city has applied for grant money for the roof project from the Kansas Historical Society. The first two applications were not accepted.
In other business, the council:
n approved the mayor’s appointment of citizens to several city boards. Kelly Schlehuber, June Glasgow, Stan Harder and Pat Nuss were reappointed to the Convention & Visitors Bureau and Peggy Goertzen was newly appointed. Clint Seibel was reappointed to the Marion County Economic Development Council. Seibel and JoAnn Knak were reappointed to the Airport Board.
n accepted the recommendation of its Abatement Review Committee to continue tax abatements previously approved for the year 2009 for three local companies: Golden Heritage Foods, Container Services and Countryside Feed.
Members of the Abatement Review Committee are Paine, Dalke and City Clerk Jan Meisinger.
n approved two contracts with the accounting firm of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd. The first contract is to do the standard audit work for the 2008 fiscal year at a cost not exceed $10,800. The second contract is for a federal single audit that is required when a city uses federal grant funds for local projects.
The city used federal funds for the sewer-lagoon project this past year. The fee for the single-audit contract is an additional $5,000.