Council OKs office remodeling

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro City Council approved at its Tuesday meeting a plan to remodel the front offices at city hall after the first of the year.

The key objectives of the project are to make the service window more amenable to the public, particularly people with disabilities, and to make it easier for staff to use computer equipment to provide updated information to clients.

City Administrator Steve Garrett said the project should streamline the way work is carried out and bring the office into full compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.

Mayor Delores Dalke noted that the way the service window currently is situated, city staff actually look down on clients when they come to the window.

“That’s really kind of rude,” she said.

The plan, drawn by Martin Rhodes, the city’s code-enforcement officer, creates several work stations within the front office as well as enlarging the service window.

Rhodes will be doing most of the construction himself. He estimated the cost of lumber and Formica to be about $2,100, with the total project likely costing about $2,500.

Water-plant update

Don Heller, EBH & Associates engineer for the water-treatment plant upgrade, said the multi-million project could be completed one to two months ahead of schedule if the needed equipment can be secured.

Hellar said the hurricanes along the Gulf Coast this summer have put some equipment in high demand.

Otherwise, Hellar said, he is hopeful the city should have around $100,000 in grant money left over that could be used to pursue some of the “extras” that had been put on hold for budgetary reasons, such as installing energy-efficient windows and painting the exterior roof.

“If you don’t spend it, it goes back to the federal government,” Hellar said about the extra grant funds.

Approval of those change orders will be considered once it is certain the grant money will be available.

Alcohol guidelines

The council briefly reviewed Ordinance No. 1119, which is an updated version of the city’s guidelines for the sale of alcoholic liquor and cereal malt beverages within city limits.

City Attorney Dan Baldwin said the changes made to the existing guidelines were primarily to bring the document into compliance with statewide changes in liquor laws that went into effect Nov. 15.

The new guidelines still specify that the only city-owned property where alcoholic liquor-including beer-can be legally consumed is the Hillsboro Municipal Golf Course.

New faces, signs

Reporting for the Hillsboro Management Board, executive director Megan Kilgore announced that four people recently were elected to the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for the first time: Krista Heinrichs, David Baker, Brenda Hamm and Eric Driggers.

She also reported that a new design is being developed for the city’s sign on U.S. Highway 50 near the Indigo Road turnoff. A preliminary design has been developed by a marketing class at Tabor College.

Kilgore also reported her office is applying for grant money to promote Hillsboro and its attractions on a billboard along Interstate 35 near the U.S. Highway 56 exit.

Funding a reservoir cleanup

Reporting on her attendance at the National League of Cities meeting earlier in the month at Charlotte, N.C., Dalke said she attended a session on federal funding that gave her hope for a solution to the ongoing algae problem at Marion Reservoir.

The session was sponsored by the Russ Reid Co., a Washington, D.C., lobbying group that represents cities, counties and non-profits for the purpose of obtaining line-item funding for community projects.

Dalke said company representatives expressed interest in the reservoir issue when she talked with them privately after the session.

“They sound like someone we should become more familiar with, especially to obtain financing to clean up the Marion Lake and the blue-green algae,” she said.

Dalke said she would like to talk with other entities, governmental and private, that have significant economic interest in maintaining a high-quality reservoir about sharing the cost of the lobbying efforts.

Other business

In other matters, the council:

  • acting on a recommendation from auditors, approved Resolution 2005-18, which initiates the transfer of $17,861 from the Hillsboro Utility Meter Deposit Fund to a newly created “Meter Deposit Reserve” account in the general budget.

    The action allows the city to use the money that otherwise has been held in reserve for numerous years with no clear origin or perceived designation.

    “We have no idea whose money it is and where it came from,” Dalke said.

  • approved an increase of 5 cents in the city’s monthly charge to residents for recycling, from $1.65 to $1.70.
  • approved cereal malt beverage licenses for 2006 to the following applicants: Duckwall/Alco Stores, Cooperative Grain & Supply, Hillsboro Golf Association, Vogts Hometown Market and Casey’s General Stores.
  • approved Resolution 2005-19, which updates the city’s boundaries to incorporate property that was annexed during 2005.
  • approved a work-compensation premium of $28,651, a 4.4 percent increase from last year’s premium of $27,432. The policy is funded through Kansas Municipal Insurance Trust.
  • agreed to cancel uncashed checks totaling $1,359 that were written by the city to 13 persons or businesses between May 2000 through June 2002.
  • approved Resolution 2005-17 that modifies the terms and provisions of industrial-development revenue bonds issued through the city in 1999 to Countryside Feeds LLC.

    The company retired most of bonds earlier this year but will retain a few of them in order to maintain the property-tax exemption granted by the city in connection with the bonds.

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