City delays decision on staff funding

Hillsboro City Council members seemed to agree during their Feb. 15 meeting that the city needs to continue the position of economic development director.

But they aren?t yet sure which is the best mechanism for funding the position over the long term.

The full-time position currently is funded by the city in partnership with the Hillsboro Development Corp. to the tune of about $65,000 a year. The city?s portion of the package is funded with revenue generated by the electrical fund.

Councilor Shelby Dirks had insisted at an earlier meeting that the position be funded through a voter-approved resolution to increase the 1-mill levy designated for the city?s Indust?rial Fund.

The required increase was tentatively estimated by City Administrator Larry Paine to be 4.33 mills.

About midway through the discussion, Dirks floated a motion to proceed with preparations to have the question placed on the April 5 local-election ballot.

Councilor Byron McCarty seconded the motion, having noted earlier that he wasn?t comfortable funding the position through the electrical department.

But as the discussion continued, several issues surfaced. One was the timing of the April 5 election, and whether the council had adequate time to inform the public about the importance of the position before it was put to a vote.

At the same time, the city?s only other options for a ballot vote would be to call for a special election, the expenses of which the city would have to pay, or wait until the November 2012 general election.

Meanwhile, Councilor Bob Watson said he was comfortable with idea of the council exercising its authority to add the necessary mills to fund the position through the city?s general fund.

?It?s the council?s job to know the facts and make the decision,? Watson said.

Lyman Adams, one of several HDC members present at the meeting, said he felt it would be better not to put the position to a public vote because it involved a personnel issue.

Besides, he added, if the council is convinced of the importance of having the position, what would it do if the ballot initiative failed?

?In today?s political climate, mill-levy increases aren?t very popular,? Adams said.

McCarty agreed the council needed more time to discus the issue, and withdrew his second of Dirks? motion. The motion then died for the lack of a another second.

By delaying a decision, it was noted that the council had in fact negated the possibility that the question could be developed and promoted in time for the April 5 ballot.

Sidewalk use

The council approved a resolution giving the Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Association the authority to manage sidewalk use in the downtown area on the day of the annual arts fair.

According to City Admini?strator Larry Paine, problems occasionally have arisen in the past when business owners have tried to use the sidewalk area in front of their storefronts to sell their own products when the space previously had been rented to fair vendors.

Paine said he thought it would be appropriate to renew the resolution that was last approved in 1997 so that businesses owners might be reminded of the arrangement.

When McCarty asked if such a resolution could be enforced, Paine said the city?s authority over right-of-way property includes sidewalks.

Citizen complaints

Hillsboro resident Teresa Wright, who has filed to run for mayor of Hillsboro, presented her concerns about dogs running loose, the presence of a possibly rabid possum and the activities of high school youth in the wee hours of the morning in her neighborhood.

Jessey Hiebert, assistant police chief, assured her at the meeting that the department will respond to calls for assistance with animals. As for the youth, Hiebert said his department will issue a summons for curfew violation when a violation is discovered.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? approved documents and ordinances related to fixing the legal description of the city?s tax-increment financing district, as well as its interlocal agreement with the county and school district to consult with them before funding additional development in the designated area with TIF.

? set 4 p.m. April 15 for the start of a public hearing that will result in an ordinance to restart the financing process for the TIF district.

? approved the recommendation of the city?s Tax Abatement Review Committee to extend the city?s abatement agreement with Golden Heritage Foods, LLC, Container Services Inc. and Flint Hills Industries Inc. for the current year.

? approved the annual resolution that exempts the city from following what is called ?generally accepted accounting principles? in the management of its operation. The city, instead, will operate on a cash basis, as allowed by state law.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
Ag education facility undersized, Goessel school board hears
The USD 411-Goessel Board of Education toured the agricultural education department during...
Read More