Hillsboro council passes policy on replacing utility connections

The Hillsboro City Council passed a policy about replacing utility service connections at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 5, but also took a bit of a financial hit for not having it formalized sooner.

The policy would pass the cost of a new utility-line connection to the home or business owner/occupant when the change is needed because of work initiated by the owner/occupant.

If replacement is required due to an act of nature or another non-construction form of damage, the city will pick up the expense.

The need for the new policy surfaced when a local property owner started a project without a permit, then complained to the city about the water flow not being sufficient to operate the sprinkler system the owner had added. The owner wanted the city to replace the water tap and line to the water meter at city expense.

?If we were to fund these projects at city expense, we could literally open a flood gate of replacing hundreds of services throughout the city,? City Administrator Larry Paine said.

The policy will hold true for all utilities, including water, sewer and electric utilities.

After some discussion, the council agreed it could not make the policy retroactive to a recent situation involving Tabor College.

The college had recently installed a new electrical transformer as part of the construction of a new athletic facility. The change, which cost $16,700, was made based on past experience, when the city has paid for an transformer when ?new construction? occurs.

The question was whether this project was new construction or a major remodel. The city had billed Tabor the entire amount.

?They felt it was like new construction because it was a new transformer for the whole new sports (facility) they were putting up,? Mayor Delores Dalke.

?I don?t have any problem with the new policy, but I have a problem with the fact that if we don?t communicate it, we shouldn?t be charging people for it.?

In the end the council affirmed an agreement Paine had reached with Tabor where the city would remove the portion for the new transformer ($9,500) and Tabor would pay the remainder of the expense.

Parking problem

At the start of the meeting, the council heard from Duane McCarty, who recently purchased the house and outbuildings at 211 N. Main.

McCarty asked how he could prevent the public from parking in front of one of his outbuildings, which most recently served as the Red Barn Antiques store under the previous owner.

He acknowledge that the concrete area in front of the building is part of the city ease?ment, ?but that should not allow people to park on my property.?

Paine said the concrete area in question is indeed part of the city?s 100-foot easement for Main Street, and that the private-property line ?essentially starts at the front edge of the red barn.?

Paine said he wasn?t sure what the best solution would be, but didn?t think the city could make it an official no-parking zone.

Because most of the people parking in the area appeared to be patronizing the Hillsboro Senior Center, McCarty was encouraged to talk to the people there and ask them not to park in the area.

McCarty was told another option would be to remove the concrete, install curb and gutter and plant grass in that area, but the project would be at his expense.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n approved a low bid of $154,804 from Vogt Construction, North Newton, to do most of the work in the West Winds addition intended to address drainage issue there when heavy rains fall.

The work includes deepening the ditch north of D Street to the south side of C Street, and adding culverts to move the water under D and into pipes under the fairgrounds for release through the golf-course ravine.

n amended Paine?s employment contract to authorize a 3 percent pay raise, from $76,804 to $79,108.

n amended the purchase agreement with Glenn Hoover for land in Hillsboro Business Park intended for a new facility for Midway Motors.

The purchase agreement now includes Lot 1 and a portion of Lot A, and removes lots 2 and 3 from the original agreement.

n approved a contract to hire Piper Jaffray & Co. as the city?s financial adviser for the next two years. The multi-state company has an office in Lawrence.

n presented three service awards from the League of Kansas Municipalities to city personnel: Glenda Stoppel for 25 of continuous years of service; Mike Duerksen for 20 years; and Mayor Delores Dalke for 10 years of continuous service.

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