Hillsboro council to seek better funding for wastewater project

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Uncomfortable with the deal offered by Rural Development, the Hillsboro City Council decided at its Aug. 1 meeting to look for additional options for funding the city’s proposed wastewater treatment facility.

Jerry Rayl, the city’s financial advisor, agreed with Mayor Delores Dalke’s concern that the loan package offered by RD could create “a financial burden to citizens.”

The proposal from RD, which is a funding program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would provide $750,000 in grant funding.

RD would then loan the remaining of the funding for the project and combine it with the city’s other existing RD loans for a consolidated loan of about $3.25 million at 4.5 percent over 40 years.

Rayl said under that scenario, the residential sewer charge would need to increase to a base rate of $30 to $40 per month to cover the loan payments. The current base rate is at $16.75.

“I don’t want to leave this city with that much debt,” Dalke said. She pointed out that the other existing RD loans, which were used to replace sewer lines in the city, were both financed at 3 percent.

“To roll them into a loan at 4.5 percent interest doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “We need to look for a less expensive alternative before we move forward with this project.”

Amend tax abatement

Following a public hearing that produced no comment from the public, the council agreed to amend a tax-abatement agreement with Golden Heritage Foods LLC to include improvements added recently as part of its expansion project.

In May, the council had approved a 10-year tax-abatement deal for the addition of a $2 million warehouse. The new deal would increase the total cost of the project to a limit of $2.6 million.

According to the cost-benefit analysis accompanying the request, the improvements will add 15 jobs to the GHF payroll within the first year and 22 jobs over the 10-year life of the abatement agreement.

The analysis showed the city ultimately would benefit from the agreement by about $87,000 after figuring in costs and lost taxes over the 10 years. The county would benefit by about $45,500, but Unified School District 410 would lose about $15,200 over the same period.

High bids for airport

City Engineer Bob Previtera of Reiss & Goodness Engineers said bids opened earlier in the day for improvements to the municipal airport were higher than initial projections.

The low bid from APAC-Kansas came in at $258,200. The project had been projected at $221,950.

The project, as proposed, included the addition of a lighted helipad, additional taxiways, an airplane turnaround at the end of the runway and drainage improvements.

Ninety percent of the project funding comes through a Kansas Department of Transportation grant. The remaining 10 percent from the city.

With the bid exceeding the initial projects, Previtera projected the city’s portion of the funding would increase by $10,868 to $32,595.

Previtera said the city had two options: chip in the extra money or reduce the scope of the project.

In the end, the council agreed with Previtera’s suggestion to eliminate the 60-foot-by-60-foot turnaround at the end of the runway.

Previtera said because of the limited air traffic at the airport, the turnaround was the most expendable component of the project.

Reservoir study funding

Council members expressed reservations about contributing to local funding needed for an extended study of the water quality at Marion Reservoir.

Last month, the Marion County Board of Commissioners had committed itself to pay for the $72,500 needed in local funding to qualify for a federal grant to pay for the study, which would be managed through the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy.

Funding the study would need to be extended over three to five years, according to the WRAPS office.

County commissioners had more recently suggested that Marion and Hillsboro, as major users of the reservoir to supply their respective cities, plus Peabody, with treated water, each pitch in one fourth of the $75,200.

Councilor Matt Hiebert, who seemed to express the sentiment of other council members, said he was concerned that the proposed study would not lead to a “tangible result” for improving the blue-green algae situation.

Hiebert said solutions for the algae problem ultimately would have to come through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said he wasn’t convinced the WRAPS study would be accepted by the Corps or move anyone closer to a remedy.

The council did agree to participate in a meeting with Marion City Council members on Aug. 9 to talk about the issue.

Amend tax abatement

heard project engineer Don Hellar of EBH Engineering say that the water-treatment plant upgrade was “99.9 percent complete.” Final inspection was set for 5 p.m., Aug. 9.

Plans for a community-wide open house at the renovated facility were to be finalized by the Aug. 9 walk-through.

approved an invoice of $123,672 to Meis Construction Co. for work completed on the water-line replacement project along Madison Street from D to A streets.

approved invoices for $4,410 and $3,094.39 from Reiss & Goodness Engineers for inspection and engineering fees, respectively, for the Madison Street project.

approved paying $76,788 to Carrothers Construction Co. for work completed at the Hillsboro Family Aquatic Center.

approved an invoice of $3,214 to Burbach Aquatics Inc. for services provide for the aquatic center project.

approved Dalke’s reappointment of Gayla Ratzlaff to the Hillsboro Housing Authority for another three-year term.

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