Residents of targeted area can apply for rehab funds

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Residents within a targeted area on the north side of Hillsboro have until Sept. 15 to fill out and return applications for possible financial assistance with house-rehabilitation projects.

Rose Mary Saunders, who is spearheading the application process to obtain government funding for the proposed area, reported on the project at a public hearing prior to the Sept. 6 meeting of the Hillsboro City Council.

Saunders, representing Reiss & Goodness Engineers, said she had received six completed applications to date.

If the city’s request for $400,000 is fully funded through the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program, she said the rehabilitation project could include up to 16 houses.

The area targeted by the city’s funding application encompasses the 200 block of North Main (east side), North Washington, North Lincoln, North Jefferson and North Madison (west side).

Saunders characterized the kind of improvements that qualify for funding as “major ticket” items, including such things as foundations and roofs, windows, heating systems, flooring and some code-required electrical and plumbing upgrades.

The limit that can be spent per house is $18,000.

“Basically, it’s making the house more livable and extending the life of the house by 20 years-that’s the intent of the program,” Saunders said.

Rental homes are included in the project, but landlords will be expected to chip in 25 percent of the rehab expenses if the landlords do not meet the program’s low- to middle-income requirements.

Once she receives all of the applications from interested participants, Saunders said an inspector will make an on-site evaluation to determine what course of action should be taken on each house.

When the public hearing was adjourned and the council returned to its regular session, members approved a variety of documents and procedures required as part of the city’s application package.

Saunders said the city’s application materials are due at KDOC by Sept. 30. The announcement of whether the application has been accepted, and the extent to which the project will be funded, will be announced around the first of the year.

Other business

n approved Ordinance 1111, which would annex property the city has purchased from Martha Melcher across the road from the existing Hillsboro Industrial Park for the purpose of economic development.

The 80-acre plot, which lies along the west side of Industrial Road, has been identified as the location for a proposed cheese company.

— approved Resolution 2005-12 and Ordinance 1112, which will pave the way for the city of Hillsboro to join an emerging energy group called the Kansas Power Pool.

The action was taken in anticipation of the termination of the city’s contract with Westar Energy in October 2006. The association with KPP should enable the city to buy electrical power at a more economical rate than a new contract with Westar likely would allow.

— listened to a presentation by Scott Schrieve of EMG Associates, a company which helps cities save money on energy by finding ways to reduce peak usage as well as other strategies.

Presently, peak usage is used by energy suppliers such as Westar to determine a city’s rate for an entire year.

No action was taken regarding Schrieve’s presentation, but Mayor Delores Dalke said the city will need such services as it enters the post-Westar era.

— approved the mayor’s recommendation to reappoint Wendell Dirks and Sam Garbo to full three-year terms on the board of Hillsboro Community Medical Center.

— approved several pay estimates regarding the Lincoln Street waterline-replacement project: $118,552 to Mies Construction for work completed, $1,000 for a change order, and $5,513 and $1,567 to Reiss & Goodness for inspection and engineering services, respectively.

Garrett said the project is “90 to 99 percent” complete.

— approved a pay estimate from Mies Construction for $79,275 for a waterline-replacement project along Date Street.

— appointed councilors Matt Hiebert and Shelby Dirks to be the city’s voting members at the Kansas League of Municipalities annual conference Oct. 8-11. City Administrator Steve Garrett and City Clerk Jan Meisinger were appointed as alternates.

— heard from Garrett that crack-sealing is under way along city streets and will be required for the airport runway as well.

— heard from Councilor Dirks about the need for tree-trimming along Grand Avenue between Date and Floral streets.

— called a 15-minute executive meeting at the end of the session for the purpose of discussing personnel issues. No action was taken in public session.

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