Cities to review contract for fire-protection

The city of Hillsboro will be approaching the city of Lehigh about changing the nature of their fire-service agreement.

Toward the end of the Oct. 18 Hillsboro City Council meeting, Councilor Len Coryea said he thought it was time to revisit the issue after reading in the newspaper of ongoing discontent that Lehigh council members have expressed about the arrangement.

“We can’t seem to make them happy,” Coryea said.

He suggested that all the equipment that belonged to Lehigh be returned to Lehigh and that Lehigh simply pay directly for whatever services it may require from Hillsboro, including training classes for volunteers.

City Administrator Steve Garrett said he thought Lehigh leaders would be interested in an arrangement that would give them more control over their fire-protection services and equipment. Garrett said he would be in touch with them about the issue.

The current arrangement between the two towns has been in effect for a year.

Street improvements on Adams

In his report to the council, City Engineer Bob Previtera said it is time to develop a plan for street improvements along South Adams Street (between B and D streets) in anticipation of Tabor College’s intention to build townhouses on its property along the 400 block of South Adams.

Previtera said the project would include street improvements as well as address drainage issues.

Previtera said at least parts of the project would need to be completed before Tabor starts its part of the project. He said a couple of strategies could be employed to ensure that the new street work would not be damaged during the construction of the townhouses.

In other matters, the council:

n approved Ordinance 1114 that would change the zoning designation for the newly acquired Melcher property adjacent to the Hillsboro Industrial Park from “agricultural” to “heavy industrial.”

The 80-acre site was purchased as a location for a proposed cheese factory. It is situated across from Hillsboro Industries on the west side of Industrial Road.

n granted a request from Carruthers Construction to extend the date for “substantial completion” of the new family aquatic center from May 15 to May 26, and to extend the start of the liquidated damage clause to June 9.

Councilor Matt Hiebert said he was told by Carruthers personnel that, barring weather interruptions, the project should be completed in time for Memorial Day Weekend 2006, which has been the goal of the council all along.

The completion date was extended to compensate for days lost this fall due to unplanned delays.

n approved a payment agreement with Unified School District 410 regarding improvements to be made to Memorial Field.

The agreement commits the district to pay $5,000 annually for five years, which will cover half of the $50,000 needed to pay for the targeted improvements to the city-owned baseball field.

The agreement, which must still be approved by the USD 410 Board of Education, was passed by the council with the stipulation that appropriate wording would be added about sharing the cost of labor as well as materials.

n approved a seven-year shared-use agreement with USD 410 regarding the eight tennis courts at the Sports Complex. Among other stipulations, the school would be obligated to pay the city $2,250 annually through 2012.

As with the Memorial Field agreement, the council asked that wording be included to cover labor expenses. This agreement also will need to be ratified by the USD 410 board before it goes into effect.

n appointed Hiebert as the council’s representative to the Kansas Power Pool committee and appointed Councilor Shelby Dirks and Garrett as alternates.

The city recently signed on for membership with KPP, which is a consortium of municipalities that will join forces to negotiate better utility contracts with energy providers.

n formally approved two changes to the city’s personnel policy manual: (1) Section O-2, which prohibits city employees from removing salvageable materials for personal use without permission of the council; and (2) Section D-5, which requires city employees to physically work 40 hours during a given week before being eligible for overtime pay.

The intent of D-5 is to no longer count a paid holiday as eight hours of work.

n heard from Garrett that representatives from the city will attend a meeting of the county planning commission to provide input on jurisdictional issues.

Garrett said cities need to have some say in what happens on land just beyond its borders.

“This is a big issue for a growing town, and we think of ourselves as being a growing town,” he said.

n discussed cost-of-living increases for city employees for 2006.

Garrett said the city has used the Social Security index as a guide in the past, and this year the index is at 4.1 percent. If the city uses that figure, it will leave little budgeted funds for merit increases.

“A merit increase is something we want to be more interested in than a cost-of-living increase,” he said.

The council asked to see additional salary information before making a decision.

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