Hillsboro Council turns down CIS fund request


Citing budget limitations for the current year, the Hillsboro City Council declined one request for an immediate financial subsidy and took no action on a second request during its June 15 meeting.

Instead, council members agreed to discuss the broader issue of subsidizing local entities and organizations as it prepares the city?s 2011 budget for approval next month.

The requests for funding came from Communities In Schools of Marion County and from the Hillsboro Senior Center.

Linda Ogden, CIS executive director, had asked the council at its previous meeting for a contribution to the Marion County Family Finan?cial Assistance Fund, which CIS coordinates with input from other service entities and ministerial groups in the county.

The fund is used to help families pay for basic bills such as utilities, food and rent in crisis situations.

The council, which deferred action at the previous meeting in order to find out what it had contributed the previous year, was updated by e-mail by City Clerk Jan Meisinger prior to Tuesday?s meeting.

She said meeting minutes indicated the council had approved payments of $1,000 to CIS in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007.

In May 2009, Ogden had asked for $30,000 to provide mental-health services for high school students, but the request was denied for lack of budget funds. Meisinger added that she did not find record of a budget request for $1,000 in either 2008 or 2009.

Council members expressed both support and reservations about a donation to the CIS special fund.

Council Byron McCarty said during his time as police chief it frustrated him to see people spend their money on ?beer and cigarettes? instead of paying their bills and providing for their families.

Councilor Bob Watson said the common stereotype is of the ?deadbeat,? but ?there are good people who are having trouble paying their bills, too.?

City Administrator Larry Paine said he is aware that people who live in longterm poverty value things differently than those who don?t. At the same time, he said his role requires him to ensure that people pay their utility bills?even if he feels like a ?horse?s patootie? because ?it may take food from the table? in some homes.

Mayor Delores Dalke reminded the council the city?s operating budget didn?t have much available cash for outside causes, and that the financial squeeze likely will only be harder next year.

?It?s going to take a miracle (to avoid a mill-levy increase) without a huge growth in our accessed value,? Dalke said, noting local building permits were ?almost nil? during the past year.

Earlier in the meeting, Charles Rempel, representing the Hillsboro Senior Center board, had asked the council to add a line item to the 2011 budget to support the services the organization provides.

Rempel said the center operated at a $4,000 loss in 2009 and was down $1,000 so far in 2010.

He said underwriting services for children and young families, citing the new aquatic center as an example, was important for the city to do.

?Seniors are also important to our community,? he said.

Rempel asked either for a line item to subsidize the center, or for the city to extend a reduction in its utility bill.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? accepted a bid from Vogts Parga Construction from North Newton to put in Phase 1 street, drainage, sanitary sewer and water line improvements in Hillsboro Business Park.

The company?s bid of $197,424 was lower than bids of $198,512 submitted by Mies Construc?tion of Wichita and $222,6000 from APAC-Kansas Shears Division based in Hutchinson.

? approved the creation of an additional utility easement along the east side of the cell tower in Hillsboro Business Park to accommodate the location of natural gas and sewer lines.

? authorized the mayor to sign contracts for the HBP work once the documents are agreed upon in the pre-construction meeting.

? approved a bill for $4,440 to Reiss & Goodness Engineers for work done related to construction staking and mass grading in HBP.

? heard that work is proceeding within the contract schedule on the Ash Street renovation project.

? heard from Paine that Wichita Electric has installed the remote-control units at the airport that allow pilots to turn on the runway lights for 15 minutes as they prepare for landing and takeoff. The change will reduce the expense of running the lights for extended periods.

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