Council authorizes purchase of land for wastewater lagoon

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Hillsboro City Council voted at its Tuesday meeting to proceed with the purchase of about 142 acres east of town after hearing that it is suitable for developing the city’s new wastewater lagoon system.

City Administrator Steve Garrett said test drillings confirmed that the land meets engineering requirements for the project.

“Favorable soils are present, favorable depth to ground water was found, favorable direction of prevailing winds and favorable location with respect to new and existing industries were found,” said Garrett, reporting the results submitted by the testing company, Terracon Consultants Inc.

The land is just east of of the Hillsboro Industrial Park and extends east to Kanza Road. About 62 acres will be purchased from Kim Koop and about 80 acres from Vic and Myrna Jost. Both parcels were priced at $2,000 per acre.

Public Building Commission

The council recessed to do business as the Public Building Commission.

The commission approved a resolution giving public notice that the city plans to issue revenue bonds to finance construction of the family aquatics center based on the recent approval of a half-cent sales-tax increase for the city.

The bonds won’t be issued until the facility is constructed and a final cost of the project is determined. The resolution states the bonds will not exceed $2.75 million.

Rayl said if the bonds were issued at today’s interest rate, a 15-year bond would be set at 4.5 percent; if pushed to 20 years, the rate would be 4.7 percent.

As part of its PBC agenda, members elected Len Coryea as chairman; he succeeds Shelby Dirks, who chaired this meeting.

Parkside Homes project

The council later recessed to hold a public hearing for the purpose of gathering input about the city’s plan to issue a bonds package for an expansion project planned by Parkside Homes Inc.

Marsha Wood, representing the Hinkle Elkouri Law Firm of Wichita, presented the Parkside Homes proposal as addressed in Ordinance No. 1102. The ordinance authorizes the construction project and outlines the bonding strategy being proposed:

— Series A, in the amount of $1.605 million, to be used to reissue bounds from 1994-95 bonds;

— Series B, in the amount of $2 million, will be used for part of the 2005 project;

— Series C, to be issued as taxable bonds, will be used to finance most of the remaining portion of the remaining 2005 addition.

When the city is able to issue bank-qualified bonds, Series D non-taxable bonds will be issued to replace the Series C bonds.

After the public hearing was recessed and the council meeting resumed, councilors passed Ordinance No. 1102.

Tax abatement for CSI

The council later recessed into a second public hearing, this one regarding tax abatement for Container Services Inc. of Hillsboro.

Representatives from CSI were unable to attend because of a business engagement out of town, Garrett said.

Rayl said CSI was requesting tax abatement for a piece of manufacturing equipment the firm anticipates purchasing. He said a cost/benefit analysis showed the economic benefit to the city, county and school district at 3.20 to 1 ratio.

“It is generally held that a ratio of 1.3 to 1 is more than adequate,” Rayl said. “In this particular analysis, we have almost more than three times that.”

The tax-abatement incentive was reported at 77 percent, which means CSI would pay 23 percent of the taxes assessed for that piece of equipment over 10 years.

CSI projected the piece of equipment would help generate an increase in sales of $6.25 million over that same time span.

Coryea questioned whether CSI could actually generate the personal income it projected.

After adjourning the public hearing, council members continued discussion of the ordinance.

Rayl said the council could deviate from current policy and deny the abatement, which will go into effect in January. In the end, the council approved Ordinance No. 1103.The council then decided to review its policy on abatements with the idea of requiring verification that new employees are not simply seasonal add-ons, as well as to verify sales figures.

Adding peroxide to raw water

The council authorized Mayor Delores Dalke to sign an agreement that would put Hillsboro’s water-treatment process on the cutting edge in Kansas by adding peroxide to the raw water coming out of Marion Reservoir before piping it on to the city’s treatment plant.

“The Department of Health has agreed to let us do that, but we have to do that under the watchful eye of a licensed engineer,” Garrett said. “The cost to the city will be minimal.”

Don Heller of EBH Engineers said a chemist in Oklahoma developed the process that, if successful, would save the city considerable money in the long run.

“This would cut the cost of chemicals for the City of Hillsboro by up to 50 percent,” Heller said. “It will make a huge difference in the water quality as well.”

Heller said Hillsboro is a pilot city and would be the first city in Kansas to adopt the process, although Texas has “more than 3,000 plants” ready to convert.”

U.S. Peroxide will provide the needed equipment if the city purchases the peroxide from them at a cost 10 cents per pound cheaper than other companies offer it.

In other business, the council:

— witnessed the swearing in of Coryea and Matt Hiebert for a new term as council members and Dalke for another term as mayor. All three were uncontested in the recent local election. Later, the council selected Dirks as its president for the coming year.

— discussed Ordinance No. 1101, which would put the recently approved half-cent sales-tax increase into effect Oct. 1. That date marks the beginning of the first quarter after officially notifying the Kansas Department of Revenue of the increase.

— authorized Dalke to sign a proclamation identifying April as “Fair Housing Month” in Hillsboro. The proclamation is necessary for the city to be eligible for state housing grants.

— heard from Garrett that Bryson Mills has agreed to be the city’s hearing officer for nuisance-property appeals at a fee of $175 per event, which represents $150 for services and $25 for mileage.

— heard from city engineer Bob Previtera about final plans for the Lincoln Street water-line project.

Previtera said the plan provides flexibility for funding. Bids will be solicited for both 8-inch and 6-inch lines, because “if budget becomes a problem, we do have the option of going with the 6-inch line,” he said.

— approved placing ads soliciting bids for water-plant upgrades. The bids will be opened at 10:30 a.m. June 7 for the water-treatment plant, at 1:30 p.m. for water-improvement lines, and at 2:30 p.m. for painting the water tower.

— approved job descriptions for “aquatic facilities manager” and “assistant aquatics facility manager.” The facilities manager, when selected, will report to Matt Dalke, director of the Hillsboro Recreation Commission.

On a related topic, Dalke said the city isn’t obligated to pay time and a half for seasonal employees at the swimming pool.

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” Dalke said. “We don’t have to pay these college kids time and a half if they work over 40 hours a week.

“It’s just costing the city too much money,” she added. “This applies to more than just swimming pool employees.”

— heard from Dalke that Hillsboro, for the 10th straight year, was named a “Tree City” by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

— heard Garrett report that the Kansas Department of Transpor-tation is planning a meeting May 10 to talk about how KDOT can better work with municipalities.

“I would say our relationship with the Department of Transportation has improved dramatically from nothing to something,” Garrett said. “Hopefully, we can continue that relationship.”

— heard that the third phase of the city’s electric grid is ready for service. It creates a north circuit to even out peak usage loads during the summer.

— discussed electric boxes at the Willow Glen housing development, which have been flooded after heavy rains. Garrett said Mike Duerksen, electric superintendent, is addressing the problem and hopes to rectify it soon.

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