City council affirms mayor’s right to pick fire board members

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil reaffirmed at its March 21 meeting the mayor’s authority to appoint representatives of her choosing from rural townships participating in the Fire Advisory Board.

At a meeting of the advisory board earlier this month, township officers had expressed a desire for greater communication between the city and townships.

“Their criticism was that township officers were not on the Fire Advisory Board and that members of the Fire Advisory Board did not communicate back to the township from where they lived,” said City Admin­i­strator Larry Paine.

Upon further review, Menno Township was the only township that was not represented by township officers, he added.

Paine said it is important for each township to be adequately represented on the advisory board, which deals with equipment purchases, policies and procedures regarding fire protec­tion in the rural areas.

At the same time, Paine said he wanted to avoid a situation where two township officers could decline appointment, leaving only one officer for the mayor to appoint, regardless of the person’s qualifications or motivations.

The council affirmed Paine’s recommendation that board policy state that in the event of two township officer declining appointment, the mayor has the authority to appoint a resident from the township who is not an officer.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n voted 3-0 to appoint Austin Welch to the Hills­boro Fire Depart­ment as a volunteer firefighter. Fire Chief Ben Steketee said Welch, a senior at Hillsboro High School, had participated in the junior firefighter program and has been attending weekly drills for the past year and a half.

n voted 3-0 to authorize Paine to negotiate an addendum to the city’s contract with American Tower regarding the cell phone tower on the north edge of town.

Paine said the current lease doesn’t address which party will be responsible for dismantling the tower when it is no longer needed.

Paine said American Tower leases city land on which the tower stands, and the city has the right to determine which client has use of the tower.

n approved a revised purchase power agreement for the Kansas Power Pool. In January, the council had approved a letter indicating it would approve the agreement once it was presented.

The new purchase power agreement will put all KPP members cities on the same contract life cycle.

When cities first signed on, the documents contained minor differences regarding supplemental projects that would be funded in the bond issue for certain cities.

n heard Paine say he had been asked by Mayor Delores Dalke to prepare a charter ordinance that would give her the opportunity to appoint an individual living outside the city limits to the library board.

The problem, Paine said, is that it is not clear when the library became legally established under state statute. If it occurred after July 1, 1951, the city can pass a charter ordinance to make the change; if the library was established prior to that date, the city cannot do the charter ordinance.

Paine deferred action to the April 4 meeting, pending additional research.

n agreed 3-0 to extend the council’s moratorium on a “net metering policy” for another six months. The policy would address how a city handles requests from homeowners who want to use solar power units to reduce their residential electric bill.

The city has been waiting to receive recommendations on that topic from Kansas Municipal Utilities.

n voted 3-0 to approve Resolution 2017-03, exempting the city from having to use “generally accepted accounting principles.” Paine said Kansas is a “cash basis” state and GAAP principles are irrelevant to Kansas accounting guidelines.

n heard Paine report that the city of Hillsboro has made it to the quarterfinals of the Kansas Hometown Showdown sponsored by the League of Kan­sas Munici­pal­ities.

Hillsboro defeated Newton, 410-402, in third round based on Facebook “likes” regarding competing photographs from each city.

Sixty-four cities are participating in the statewide contest. Hillsboro’s next opponent is Ellis, who defeated Haysville, 442-357.

The winning photo will appear on the cover of a future edition of the Kansas Govern­ment Journal, Paine said.

Councilor Brent Driggers was absent from the meeting.