Council OKs CIS contribution

Even though some members still questioned the decision in principle, the Hillsboro City Council approved a request last Tuesday to contribute $1,000 toward Community in Schools in 2002.

A written request had been submitted by CIS at the council’s Oct. 17 meeting that the City of Hillsboro contribute the money as one part of a larger plan to raise $25,000 to help fund a half-time position for director Linda Ogden when grant money for her full-time position runs out at the end of this month.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, councilors affirmed the value of the program, which has provided after-school activities for children and classes for parents in Marion County. But they wondered why the city, as an entity, was being asked to contribute toward a county program.

Ogden and Gordon Mohn, USD 410 superintendent, were on hand at last Tuesday’s meeting to talk more about the benefits of the program and the rationale for asking the city to contribute toward it.

“We’ve received a lot of verbal support for Community in Schools,” Mohn said. “Now we’re asking for financial support.”

Ogden handed out a sheet listing the projects CIS accomplished during the past year, some by linking with other agencies and programs, including the Hillsboro Recreation Commission.

“Without CIS doing these things, these things would not have happened,” she said. “Is there any other place where all these agencies and people could work together to collaborate?”

Councilors Mike Padgett and Wendell Dirks again affirmed the program, but still questioned why it couldn’t be funded with county funds alone.

“It seems to me we’re being double-dipped,” said Dirks.

“The county should fund county programs,” added Padgett.

Speaking later in favor of making the contribution, Padgett said: “I don’t want to see the program penalized because of my principles.”

A recommendation to approve the funding passed unanimously, but with the stipulation that a letter be sent to the county commission explaining the council’s position on the issue.

Since the request did not come in time to be included in the 2002 budget, the funding likely will be taken from the budget of the Hillsboro Recreation Commission.

In other business, the council:

— approved a final draft to its tax abatement policy. The new policy outlines a specific formula for figuring abatement percentages based on the amount of the private investment, the number of additional employees envisioned, and the percent of a company’s product that is exported out of the county. The policy also sharpens the strategy for keeping companies accountable for their promises.

— approved the appointment of Don Graumann to the city’s Housing Authority and the reappointment of incumbents Paul Epp and Eileen Unruh to the board of Hillsboro Community Medical Center.

The acceptance of those two nominees without receiving additional suggestions from the board violated the letter of the agreement the city maintains with HCMC, admitted Mohn, who is chair of the board.

But council members waived the restrictions, given the positive contributions of the two incumbents and the difficulty of finding additional names when incumbents are being renominated.

— approved the city becoming members of the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency, a consortium of almost 60 Kansas communities. The membership fee is between $500 to $600, according to Steven Garrett, city administrator.

“This is not something we pay dues to and get junk mail from,” he said. “They do expect participation.”

Hillsboro will not become an official member until March, but will qualify for benefits as soon as the application and dues are turned in, Garrett said.

— approved Policy No. 55 in the city’s “Municipal Policy Statement” regarding self-inspection procedures. Garrett said self-inspection of city departments already happens monthly and concerns are noted and addressed.

— approved invoices of $149,612 from APAC-Kansas and engineering fees from Reiss & Goodness of $5,568 regarding the recently completed asphalt overlay project at the airport.

— approved an invoice of $100,842 form APAC-Kansas and engineering fees from Reiss & Goodness totalling almost $6,580 for work completed on the sewer outfall line.

— met in executive session at meeting’s end for two reasons: land acquisition and personnel. No decisions were made when the two sessions were concluded.

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