Hillsboro council approves new tax-abatement policy

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro City Council approved the city’s new tax-abatement policy at its Nov. 20 meeting.


On hand to discuss the policy were Mike Kleiber and Darrell Driggers, representing the Hillsboro Development Corp. They asked whether an investment of at least $250,000 was necessary to qualify for an abatement, as the policy seemed to indicate.


Jerry Rayl, the city’s financial consultant, said the minimum investment was included “on the theory that $250,000 was of a nominal nature that someone should ask an abatement for.”


Kleiber suggested the council rethink the amount, but upon further discussion, Rayl pointed out that the council can make exceptions to the policy if it feels it would be advantageous to the city to do so.


In addition to approving the policy, the council also approved Rayl’s recommendation that the policy also be applied to requests for issuing industrial revenue bonds.


The council also approved an ordinance that would abolish the position of city superintendent. The need for the position came into question after Johnnie Liles was suspended from the job with pay two weeks earlier.


The ordinance declaring the change will take effect after it is published once in the official city newspaper.


The council approved a recommendation to issue longevity pay to city employees again this year. The council is required to review the practice each year. The purpose of the policy is to encourage good employees to stay on with the city.


Mayor Delores Dalke said the city was not obligated to approve the recommendation simply because of tradition.


“If we’re low on cash, we won’t do it,” she said.


The council also decided to give employees an additional half-day off on Christmas Eve since it falls on a Monday. City Administrator Steven Garrett had recommended a full day off.


But Dalke said four days without trash collection “is an impossible situation in town,” especially for commercial customers.


Councilor Wendell Dirks, who owns and operates Circle D Corp. in Hillsboro, said: “I can’t compete with all the holidays city employees get now. We’re pretty generous with all the holidays we offer.”


In his report to the council, Garrett said he and Fire Chief Ben Steketee were notified by the county dispatcher’s office that the Hillsboro Fire Department will be called out for fires within the city of Lehigh.


“We are unsure how long this situation will last, but expect it to stretch into next year,” Garrett stated. He suggested the city take official action on the matter at its next meeting.


Garrett also reported that, after reviewing state statutes governing recreation commissions, that the Hillsboro Recreation Commission was not in full compliance. The HRC agreed to designate the city treasurer to handle its finances instead of appointing its own treasurer, as is stipulated by the statutes.


Garrett also reported that the Kansas Department of Transportation has offered the city $63,020 toward improved runway lighting at the local airport. The city would have to contribute 10 percent of the amount toward the project, which would occur in 2002.


In other business, the council:


–accepted an insurance settlement offer of $55,061 from EMC Insurance Co. to cover the loss of the city’s electric workshop in a fire last July. Garrett suggested that a new and bigger shop be built on the grounds, but on a different site from the old one. Council members indicated their agreement.


–agreed to sell used bricks from the city’s stockpile “at market price.” Purchase of the bricks, which were acquired several years ago when Ash Street was redone, would not be limited to Hillsboro residents, as had been the case at one point.


–approved a recommendation to advertise for bids for redoing the alley that runs parallel with Main and Washington streets from Grand to First streets. The pre-bid will be Dec. 12 with bids to be opened at 2 p.m., Dec. 18.


–approved Policy No. 56 for the city’s operations manual. The policy calls for the use of the proper protective equipment by city employees.


–heard from Garrett that the sewer outfall line project is nearing completion. Final inspection is scheduled for Dec. 4.

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