Council OKs funding for interior improvements at HCMC home

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
During its special meeting Wednesday, the Hillsboro City Council approved funding for interior improvements at the Hillsboro Community Medical Center Long Term Care Unit, but was informed that its application for state assistance for renovating the exterior was not approved.

After hearing a review of the proposed interior improvements from Gayla Ratzlaff, HCMC social services director, the council approved a request for $32,964 through the Public Building Commission to apply skim-coat to the concrete-block hallways as well as adding sconces in the hallway and crown moulding to doorways.

The improvements will be completed by Jantz Construction of Tampa.

“We think we can go a long way with just this,” Ratzlaff said in reference to attempts to soften the center’s institutional appearance.

Ratzlaff informed the council HCMC had received word July 3 that its application for $369,000 through the state’s tax-credit program had been turned down. The money would have been used to construct a more accommodating and inviting entrance to the nursing home.

Mike Ryan, HCMC chief executive officer, said all of the applications accepted by the state this year were for hospital projects; no nursing-home projects were approved.

“We’ll have to step back a bit and rethink our next steps,” Ryan said.

Later in the meeting, citing attorney-client privilege, the council met for 50 minutes in executive session with Ryan, members of the HCMC board as well as the city’s financial and legal advisors.

No action or comment surfaced when the regular meeting resumed.

Audit issues

Scot Loyd, representing the public accounting firm of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd of McPherson, presented the company’s audit report for the 2005 fiscal year.

Loyd noted progress the city had made on accounting deficiencies noted from the previous year. But he also addressed “several matters that are opportunities for strengthening internal controls and operating efficiency.”

Mayor Delores Dalke said, “We’ve come a long way from where we were, but we’re a long way from where I want to be.”

One of the continuing issues from 2004 is the lack of a written agreement between the city and the Hillsboro Golf Association regarding the city-owned golf course. According to the report, officials from both entities have met to discuss issues, and the city attorney is drafting an agreement.

The report listed four aspects of the current relationship that should be addressed in that agreement:

HGA reimburses the city for 25 percent of the golf superintendent’s salary; it also reimburses the city for the entire cost of insurance and additional summer help.

The city owns both the land and the buildings, but has little or no decision-making authority.

HGA sets the rates and charges, but the city may be expected to provide financial support in case of a deficit. Currently, the city does not receive funds from HGA if there is a net profit.

The city presently does not appoint members to the HGA board.

Overall, Loyd said the creation of an Audit Committee last year enhanced the audit process and contributed to much of the progress made to address th firms recommendations.

The Audit Committee had met for two hours with the auditors prior to Wednesday’s meeting to review results and recommendations. Members of the committee are Dalke, City Administrator Steve Garrett, City Clerk Jan Meisinger and Councilor Shelby Dirks.

Upon the recommendation of the auditors, the council wrote off five accounts totaling $5,413 that have filed for bankruptcy. Three of those accounts, responsible for all but $334 of the total, were business related.

The accounts will be removed from the city’s “active” accounts receivable, but they can be reinstated on the active list if the holders of those accounts return to the city for future assistance.

Civic service

The mayor presented a framed certificate of appreciation to Lowell Goering for a combined 56 years of voluntary service on two civic boards.

For the past 28 years, Goering has been a member of the city’s Community Planning & Development Commission as well as its Board of Zoning Appeals.

He recently stepped down from those positions because of a health issue.

To fill the vacancies, the council approved the following appointments made by the mayor: Dale Honeck to the CPDC, and Krista Heinrichs to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Bids for airport work

The council authorized City Engineer Bob Previtera of Reiss & Goodness Engineers to advertise for bids on the latest airport-improvement project.

The $168,000 project, 90 percent of which will be funded by a Kansas Department of Transportation grant, will include drainage work and creation of new asphalt taxi-ways, a tie-down area, a turnaround at the end of the runway and a heli-pad. The latter would be used for transferring hospital patients by medical helicopters.

In other business, the council:

authorized Previtera to solicit estimates for the cost of resurfacing Ash Street from just north of First Street to the Third Street intersection. He explained multiple approaches that could be used for the project.

deferred paying an invoice for $76,778 to Carrothers Construction Co. until the city receives the landing mats for the aqua-deck area of the new pool. The mats have been on order for several weeks but have yet to be delivered.

“Maybe if somebody grabs them by the short hairs, we might be more likely to get them,” Councilor Matt Hiebert said.

approved payments of $199,150 to Utility Contractors Inc. for work done at the water-treatment plant, and of $12,778 to EBH & Associates for engineering fees.

approved paying voluntary dues of $963.21 to Kansas Municipal Utilities that go toward retaining legal assistance for the organization’s work.

announced that a public hearing regarding the designation of industrial revenue bonds for Golden Heritage Foods, originally scheduled for the July 5 council meeting, will be rescheduled. Mayor Dalke said the company was not ready to proceed.

agreed to meet for a budget work session the week of July 10-14. The date and time was to be negotiated. For long-range planning, council members were instructed to each develop a list of the top 10 capital improvements they’d like to see in the city.

heard that recent leakage on streets by the city refuse truck reflects the kind of materials residents set out to be picked up. Garrett said the truck is designed with holes to drain liquids that would otherwise corrode its metal interior.

approved spending $1,200 to acquire a computer program that will enable David Baker of Hillsboro to produce a promotional video for the city. Baker is volunteering his services.

Dalke noted the city could expect to pay at least $20,000 if the project was contracted to a professional video company.

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