Council OKs ordinance to change museum management

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The way Hillsboro has been organized to manage its history is now a thing of the past.

At its special meeting Tuesday, the Hillsboro City Council approved Ordinance No. 1090, which strengthens the city’s role in overseeing local museums.

Gone is the structure known for years as the Hillsboro Historical Society, which took charge of the Mennonite Settlement Museum-featuring the Peter Paul Loewen House (formerly called the Adobe House)-and the Schaeffler House with limited accountability to the city council.

Established in its place is a city museum department known as Hillsboro Museums, which will take on the responsibility to “manage and promote the historical properties ” of the city and “promote the community heritage.”

Hillsboro Museums will work under the authority of the council with the guidance of a nine-member advisory board that will “recommend and advise” the council and museum staff. The city treasurer will be treasurer for the advisory board.

Members of what was known as the Hillsboro Historical Society Board will continue as members of the newly designated advisory board. Stan Harder continues as director of Hillsboro Museums.

City Administrator Steven Garrett said the new ordinance will help clarify and strengthen the role of city government in regard to its historical properties.

Weather benefits

In his report to the council, Garrett said the city is “way below” the rate of electrical use this summer, thanks to moderate temperatures.

“When it’s low, it’s good for us because it makes our electrical rates for the winter months cheaper,” he said.

Garrett said electrical rates for an entire year are based on peak consumption levels during the summer months, so he is hopeful the below-normal usage will continue into fall and translate into savings for the city’s electrical customers.

Benefits boost

For the first time in a while, the council received good news about health-insurance coverage for city employees.

Renewal rates for the city’s plan through Blue Cross and Blue Shield have decreased by 27.3 percent, Garrett told the council. As a result, he said the city can offer its workers better coverage at a lower total cost.

The council approved a renewal proposal that would lower the deductible for single coverage to $200 and to $400 for families compared to $500 for single coverage and $1,000 for families.

Once the deductible is reached, the new plan includes an 80/20 coinsurance up to $1,000 for single coverage and $2,000 for family coverage with a $20 copay for office visits, whether to see a physician or for eye exams.

Garrett said BCBS officials project “favorable rates” for the next two to three years.

Fire protection

The council delayed signing fire-protection contracts with the city of Lehigh and Liberty Township to clarify whether the rates stipulated in the contracts apply to the 2004 fiscal year or the 2005 fiscal year.

The new contract stated an annual fee of $500 “for the fiscal year 2004.” But confusion arose whether the $500 fee was intended to apply to 2005 and a $350 fee had been agreed upon for 2004.

Garrett said he and City Attorney Dan Baldwin would review the contract process, which occurred several months earlier.

Mayor Delores Dalke raised a related concern, having read in the press that Lehigh had not yet made a payment on its 2004 fee. She wondered who was responsible for billing Lehigh and the three area fire districts for contracted services provided by the Hillsboro department.

“A contract’s not going to be any good without someone responsible for billing,” she said.

Garrett said the information regarding fire runs usually comes through the Hillsboro fire chief, but he would look into the situation and clarify the procedure.

“Let’s figure out what we’re doing,” Garrett said.

Other business

In other matters, the council:

— approved the following payment requisitions relating to the renovation project on North Main Street: $55,676 to APAC Kansas for construction, and separate billings of $2,135 and $2,800 to Reiss & Goodness Engineers for inspection.

— tabled action on a contract with Reiss & Goodness regarding engineering services for a proposed project to replace the water line along Lincoln Street.

Because the city is seeking a Community Development Block Grant to help fund the project, the contract presented for approval was more complex than standard engineering contracts.

The council wanted the city attorney to review the contract before taking action.

— heard from Garrett that the city airport passed its inspection by the Kansas Department of Transportation with no deficiencies.

— passed ordinances No. 1091 and No. 1092, adopting the 2004 Uniform Public Offense Code and the Standard Traffic Ordinance, respectively, which are published by the Kansas League of Municipalities.

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