ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro residents will be getting a small break on their next utility bills, thanks to a decision by the city council last Tuesday to cut the monthly water surcharge fee in half.
The fee will be reduced from $2.50 to $1.25.
The fee had been added several years ago to help cover the cost of improvements to the water system. When AMPI, the city’s top water user, ceased operating in 1998, the council decided to continue the surcharge until the city began selling water to Peabody and Rural Water District No. 5.
Peabody came on line earlier this fall, but RWD No. 5 is still in the process of forming.
“We promised the people we would lower the surcharge, so I think we should keep our promise,” Mayor Delores Dalke said.
The council agreed by a 4-0 vote.
The council discussed for some time a project intended to improve the intersection at Grand and Washington streets. City engineer Bob Previtera, from Reiss & Goodness, suggested expanding the project to take care of some drainage problems along one block of North Washington Street off of Grand.
The council agreed the improvements were needed and then asked whether anything could be done to reduce the height of the concrete drive that comes out of the fire and ambulance station and into North Washington.
Councilor Wendell Dirks said a number of local drivers, to avoid the intrusive drive, are steering into the oncoming lane of traffic.
Previtera said he would provide information for the council to review.
In response to a question about occasional power outages in the city, City Administrator Steve Garrett said the situation could be improved if tree branches were properly trimmed along power lines. He said the city is “four to five years behind” in the process and that a winter ice storm could bring down the entire system.
Garrett suggested that a private trimmer be hired to help the city catch up. He was authorized to check into the situation.
Councilor Leonard Coryea said he hoped the trees could be trimmed without destroying their aesthetic appeal-something he didn’t feel had always been accomplished in the recent past.
In other business, the council:
— reviewed and approved its Neighborhood Revitalization Program for another year, as is required by the program’s guidelines.
The program offers tax incentives for property owners in a designated area of the city to make improvements on their property.
— approved Dalke’s reappointment of Willis Ensz and Richard Wall to another three-year term on the Hillsboro Historical Society Board.
Dalke said she has several other vacancies to fill on city boards and would welcome volunteers or suggestions for the Planning and Development Commission, Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, the Hillsboro Historical Society Board and the Marion County Economic Development Council.