City of Hillsboro approves cost of living adjustment for city employees

The City of Hillsboro Council met on Tuesday, Dec. 7 and City Administrator Matt Stiles announced that a cost of living adjustment (COLA) had been included for all employees during the 2022 budget process.

“At the time the budget was adopted the rate of inflation, as determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was just under 2%. That was rounded to 2% and applied in the approved salaries. If approved the increase would be effective starting on Dec. 26 for the payroll to be paid on Jan. 13. The increase would apply to all full-time and regular part-time employees employed as approval of the COLA by City Council,” said Stiles.

He explained that the estimated impact of the increase is $26,000 considering the base salaries and historically average overtime rates. Seasonal employees and other part-time employees would not receive the adjustment. The 2 percent adjustment for all full-time and regular part-time employees to be applied starting Dec. 26 was approved.

Stiles also explained that the USD 410 Senior Government Class gave ten presentations to city staff, most of which focused on areas of improvement for city amenities recently.

“The Mayor, Cara Duell and I gave feedback to the Senior Government Class community improvement presentations. Two groups focused on improving the ponds at the museum; two groups discussed improving lighting and amenities on the new walking path; there was a dog park proposal; improving the driving range at the golf course; improving fairground arena seating; improving the shelters at the park; and adding a mini-golf course,” said Stiles. “Mr. Knoll and I are planning on discussing which groups should move projects forward to the City Council. I did put in a chunk of funds in the general fund that could be used for funding portions of these projects.

Mayor Lou Thurston and Stiles discussed a policing meeting they recently had with Tabor.

“Police Chief Hiebert, the Mayor and I meet with the leadership of Tabor to introduce the Chief and talk about how we can partner together to improve student relations. It was a very productive conversation and I believe there will be a lot more positive interaction between the PD and Tabor students in the future,” said Stiles.

“It’s really about how we as a community can do a better job integrating with students,” said Mayor Thurston. “As we conversed, I just really realized the city just really doesn’t do much in terms of welcoming students to town. We recognize the importance of Tabor College, the students, the people that are employed at Tabor College and the economic impact and not just the economic impact but also the cultural impact that they have on our community. And so I think we are going look at some things in the future about how we do a better job of making sure that Tabor students are sure that they are welcome to step off of campus and enter the community and feel free to do that and to feel welcome to do that. We’ll be talking about those things.”

In other business, the council:

  •  approved the appointment of David Stephens and Darrin Franz to the Museum Board
  • heard from Stiles that he was contacted by Kevin Winter, a farmer by the water plant, and informed there has been an issue with water from the water plant lagoons getting into the drainage way of the fields. The city is allowed to drain the lagoons into the drainage way in limited high flow times, but normally the water is put into the sewer. “We think there may be an issue with a leaking valve, so we will be doing some work out there to address that issue,” said Stiles.
  • learned that since the February 2021 surcharge has been in place, the city has been charged $204,753.70 by KPP for power.
  • heard that sales tax collections were at $61,900 which was down $13,102.59 from the previous month, but still 2% ahead of last year’s number. For the year, collections are 19% above last year and 28% above the rolling 5-year average.
  • reviewed a proposal from Torrey Brothers Construction from Wamego, KS for sandblasting, repairing and re-coating the swimming pool. The pool needs to be resurfaced every 7-8 years and 2022 will mark seven years since the pool was last re-coated. The city staff solicited a proposal from Torrey because of the quality of the job that was provided in 2015. Under the proposal, the pool will be blasted and cleaned. Areas in need will be repaired. The pool will receive two coats of Sherwin Williams Macropoxy. The colors and stripes will all be matched to the current scheme. The work includes a 3-year warranty and annual inspections. Once coated, the epoxy requires two to three weeks to cure before the pool can be refilled. Ideally the work will be done in March. The city has also contacted another company about the job, but they have not yet received the bid.  The proposed bid from Torrey Brothers Construction for the project is $34,900. The 2022 budget for the Family Aquatics Center includes $125,000 for capital improvements. Staff will review both bids and consider the quality of the work product from references.
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