Hillsboro Council wades into water-cooperation study

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
An interlocal agreement concerning a feasibility study with the Kansas Water Office was the main topic at the Hillsboro City Council meeting Tuesday.

City Administrator Steve Garrett said the agreement, drafted by City Attorney Dan Baldwin, concerned a cooperative effort between the KWO and the cities of Marion and Hillsboro to study options for cooperating with water-treatment strategies.

The agreement states the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will pay 50 percent of the cost of the study while Marion and Hillsboro will each be responsible to cover 25 percent.

The study was estimated to cost around $25,000 with Hillsboro’s portion being $6,250.

If the cost of the study is determined to exceed $25,000, the agreement can be nixed by either party.

“This study should have been done 20 years ago,” Garrett said. “This coincides with the efforts the city of Hillsboro is pursuing now. If the study shows it’s not feasible, we’ll just drop it.”

Mayor Delores Dalke agreed with Garrett, but said “it probably should have been 25 years ago.”

She added the study does not negate the need to proceed with improvements at the local plant.

“We have no choice but to upgrade the water plant,” Mayor Dalke said.

The mayor said another option could be developing a wholesale water district between Hillsboro, Marion and possibly Peabody, although Peabody is already purchasing water from Hillsboro.

“It could be (a district) where all are involved with the ownership or possibly just one water plant,” she said.

Even though the study comes late, it’s not too late.

“I think it needs to be done,” Mayor Dalke said. “Marion and Hillsboro are up against a lot of money to update their water plants.”

The council followed Garrett’s recommendation to proceed with the plan and forward it to the next level, which is the Marion County Board of Commissioners.

Increase reserve pay

In other action, Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning had requested a pay increase for reserve officers from $8 per hour to $10 per hour.

Mayor Dalke recommended the matter be forwarded to the city administrator and not be acted upon by the council.

“I think this is Garrett’s decision as the administrator,” Dalke said. “It’s a decision for the city administrator, to make sure it’s within the budget.”

Dalke said she didn’t feel either she or the council needed to be involved in routine compensation issues.

Hearing no opposition, the matter was turned over to Garrett.

Signs of progress?

Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce President Jared Jost said the movement to have Hillsboro listed on signage at appropriate exits along Interstate 135 and Interstate 70 is still under way.

Jost told the council the project may require council funding down the road.

Power outage

City Administrator Steve Garrett said he hadn’t received word on the precise cause of the power outage that occurred early Sunday morning in Hillsboro and other areas of Marion County.

“All I was able to find out was that the substation was broken,” Garrett said. “I’m just not quite sure what that means.”

Garrett said the lack of information stems in part from Westar’s restructuring a few years ago.

“It’s just not very easy to get anyone to tell us anything.”

Tax abatement approved

Council members heard from the city’s financial adviser, Jerry Rayl of Gold Capital Management, concerning tax-abatement reviews.

The council considered two abatement agreements with Container Services Inc. Rayl said next year Container Services will be asking for another abatement ifor additional warehouse space.

After a short discussion on the terms the abatements, the council voted to continue both abatement agreements for another year.

Temporary notes

The council voted not to renew Resolution 2004-01, adopted Feb. 21, 2001, which provided for the financing the costs of new water filters at the water-treatment plant. The note was up for renewal in the amount of $150,000 principal and $10,500 in interest costs.

The note was scheduled to be renewed in the amount of $165,000.

Mayor Dalke said she didn’t favor renewal.

“I believe we should take cash from the electric insurance fund and pay for these,” she said.

“We’re paying 2.25 percent interest (on the note) but only earning 2 percent on our money-so why borrow when we have money to pay for it?”

Other business

In other matters, the council:

— was told that Garrett would be attending a meeting Feb. 25 in Wichita about the possibility of a wind farm somewhere in Marion County, or possibly in the Newton area.

— was told by Garrett that Burbach Aquatics will be in Hillsboro for a swimming pool assessment and to outline the options the city could take in regard to the pool.

— Garrett said the job of swimming pool manager has been advertised and he has already received applications for it, as well as applications for pool lifeguards.

Garrett said he hoped to have a new pool manager hired by the March 16 city council meeting.

— was told by Garrett that City Engineer Bob Previtera of Reiss & Goodness Engineers was scheduled to begin surveying the north end of Main Street later this week in preparation for Phase II of the Main Street renovation project.

— was told by Garrett that KDHE that the lagoons on the property purchased from Dairy Farmers of America would have to be dismantled.

“How dismantled is dismantled?” Councilor Len Coryea asked.

Garrett said it sounded like the lagoons would have to be leveled. To prepare for that project, Garrett said city crews would need to remove the fence that surrounds the lagoons. — heard from Mayor Dalke about taking out some of the slack in the power lines on streetlights along South Main Street for a better aesthetic appearance.

Garrett said he would contact the electrical department to see if such action was possible.

“I’d be for looking at that,” Garrett said. “I’ve never like that either.”

— expressed well-wishes to councilor Matt Hiebert on his upcoming marriage.

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