ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro City Council declared the Main Street renovation project officially completed at its Nov. 18 meeting, now that the city’s list of “do-over” projects has been completed.
City Engineer Bob Previtera said he and City Administrator Steven Garrett had done a final walk-through earlier that day and were satisfied their “punch list” of corrections had been satisfactorily addressed by the contractor.
Both men recommended the council declare the project completed and pay the invoices that had been tabled until such a time.
The only shortcoming still to be addressed, Previtera said, was a short stretch of depressed ribbon-bricks along an area of sidewalk where the concrete had been replaced the previous week.
Previtera said the problem occurred after the concrete was replaced and would be corrected under the one-year warranty that is in effect because the project has been formally approved.
Previtera said he was confident the bricks would be fixed soon.
Before acting on the recommendation to pay the invoices, Councilor Len Coryea asked how the leakage problem along 100 block of North Main had been addressed.
Soon after the new sidewalk and brick ribbon were initially completed, some business owners along the west side of the block discovered water in the basement of their buildings after a heavy rain.
Previtera said the bricks had been removed in the areas where leakage had occurred, and a new kind of self-sealing filler material was laid beneath them.
Satisfied by the report, the council voted unanimously to pay the following invoices: $22,580 to the contractor, APAC-Kansas, for work that occurred as the result of changes in the original project plan; $55,205 to APAC-Kansas for work completed according to the original contract; and $15,458 to Reiss & Goodness Engineers for the work Previtera and other company employees did on the project.
The council also responded favorably to a request from Golden Heritage Foods to update and reissue industrial revenue bonds to reflect the corporate changes that have taken place in the company formerly known as Barkman Honey Co. Inc.
The 10-year bonds originally were issued to Barkman in 1998. That company joined with Stoller’s Honey of Ohio in February 2002 to form Golden Heritage Foods, LLC.
To facilitate the process, the council unanimously approved three items:
n a public resolution declaring the city’s intent to reissue bonds to Golden Heritage in an amount not to exceed $2 million for the purpose of “refunding, redeeming and retiring” outstanding bonds still registered with Barkman Honey Co.;
n an agreement to redeem the old bonds issued under the name “Barkman Honey Co. Inc.” on Jan. 1, 2004.
n a declaration of a public hearing to discuss the issue set for 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 16.
Brent Barkman, president of Golden Heritage Foods, thanked the council for its assistance.
“This action has set us up for additional growth,” he said.
In other business, the council:
n approved an amendment to the city’s personnel policies that would make it more financially feasible for a city employee to get better health coverage through a spouse’s plan with a different employer.
Previously, a city employee was not entitled to any cash reimbursement if he or she opted out of the city’s plan.
The new policy would reimburse an employee up to the amount the city would have paid to have the employee on its plan.
Garrett said the change could be a “win-win” situation because it makes it possible for employees to have better coverage than the city is able to offer at this time, and it could result in savings for the city if the reimbursement is less than that city would have otherwise paid out.
To illustrate, he said in one case the city could save up to $2,500 if the employee in question switched to a spouse’s policy-and the employee would have better benefits at the same time.
“It’s more than pocket change,” he said of the potential savings to the city.
Barkman, who was listening to the discussion, suggested the policy be written in such a way that it wouldn’t be interpreted as encouragement to opt out. He said companies such as his could sustain significant cost increases if their more-expensive health plans attract significant numbers of “add-ons” who could be covered elsewhere.
n heard from Garrett that the Lehigh City Council is “greatly interested” in the idea of contracting with Hillsboro for Lehigh’s fire-protection services. Garrett said he and Baldwin are working on a sample contract to discuss with Lehigh officials.
n heard from Garrett that he is encouraged by recent negotiations with area township boards about fire-protection expectations.
“I’m confident we can get to where both sides want to be,” he said.
n heard from Garrett that conversations are moving forward with the affordable-housing project called “Windover Hillsboro,” which is targeted for the city’s north edge.
He said the Planning Commission has tentatively set 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 18, for its next meeting. The agenda will include a rezoning application from Home Town Developers, the company pursuing the project.
n agreed to a cost-of-living figure of 2.1 percent for adjusting city employee wages for 2004.