Councilman calls for reorganization of HMB

Hillsboro City Council member Len Coryea said at the July 19 regular meeting that he believes the Hillsboro Management Board needs to be reorganized to increase productivity and efficiency, particularly in the area of economic development.

Coryea, who raised the issue outside of the meeting’s published agenda, said he has heard complaints that the city is not getting enough benefit for the amount of funds the city authorizes for HMB.

HMB was created in 1991 as a way to coordinate into one office the administrative function of five entities: Hillsboro Development Corp., Marion County Fair Association, Chamber of Commerce, Arts & Crafts Association and the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Currently, the office is staffed with one full-time employee and two part-time employees.

The HMB, which oversees the office, is comprised of representatives from the boards of the five entities. MCFA representatives are not voting members.

According to City Administrator Steven Garrett, the city supports HMB with $30,200 annually-about half of its annual budget of $61,000-from three sources: the Industrial Fund ($13,200), the General Fund ($10,000) and the motel guest tax ($7,000).

Coryea said he decided to surface the issue publicly because other leaders in the community who have similar feelings about the structure have not been willing to do so.

“The problem with it is that they complain to us, but they don’t want to confront it and take the hit for it,” he said.

“I guess I’ll take the hit.”

Councilors Shelby Dirks and Byron McCarty said they also had heard complaints.

Although no plan or timetable for reviewing the structure was identified, the council appeared to be in support of doing so.

Coryea said he wondered if the HMB is out of compliance with the city ordinance passed in 1965 to fund an Industrial Fund with 1 mill in the budget by using city money to pay salaries rather than to promote the city.

The ordinance states the money is to be used “in securing manufacturing situations” in accordance with a state statute passed by the legislature in 1961.

That state statute states that money generated by a tax levy be used “for the purpose of creating a fund to be used in securing or retaining industries or manufacturing institutions” within or near the city.

Garrett said both the city ordinance and state statute are “nebulous” and open to interpretation regarding specifics.

Contacted the following day, Darrell Driggers, HMB chairman, said he agrees the structure should be reorganized, but challenged the notion that the office has not been productive.

“The office is very, very busy,” Driggers said. “Our emphasis has been placed very strongly on Chamber work. We are overloaded with work from the Chamber.”

During the council meeting, Coryea had suggested one solution may be placing the HMB office under city management.

Driggers said the structure does need to be reorganized, but “(the council) won’t like the way it will be reorganized.”

In other business, the council:

— spent the majority of its 11/2-hour meeting reviewing an initial and incomplete draft of the 2006 budget. The council agreed to pursue the process in a work session at 4 p.m., Friday.

— passed Ordinance No. 1108, which gives the city budget authority to levy more taxes than were levied the previous year. Garrett stressed that passing the ordinance did not mean the city would actually increase its actual dollars. Rather, it’s a “just-in-case” measure required by law in the event the upcoming budget requires it.

— approved a revised version of the city’s written policy regarding use of the campgrounds at Memorial Park. The key change was an increase in fees to $12.50 per night if electrical hookup is desired and $10 a night if it isn’t.

— approved an application from Alco in Hillsboro for a license to sell cereal malt beverages.

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