The Hillsboro City Coun?cil took steps during its May 6 meeting to open the local airport to aerial sprayers and to close residential front lawns to extended parking.
Following up on a presentation by Ag Service Inc. and Tyree Ag Inc. at the previous meeting, council members approved ordinances that would suspend current weight restrictions for aerial sprayers as well as hazardous chemical prohibitions at the airport through the end of December.
The purpose of the temporary measure is to give the business arrangement between Ag Service and Tyree Ag a chance to prove itself.
?If we are happy with the performance (of the applicator), we can repeal or rewrite (the ordinances) to meet new performance criteria,? City Admini?strator Larry Paine said.
?Should we need to extend this into the 2015 season, an ordinance extending the time the suspended sections would be removed could be approved,? he added.
?Should the operations indicate there was a lack of attention to the conditions of the property, the council could let the ordinance expire and the two ordinance sections would be reinstated.?
Parking on lawns
Later in the meeting, the council approved an ordinance prohibiting motor vehicles, or parts of motor vehicles, from being parked on front lawns?except for a temporary reason such as unloading passengers or property.
Vehicles must be parked on an ?improved parking space,? defined in the ordinance as an area covered with a non-vegetation hard surface such as brick, gravel, rock, asphalt, concrete or equivalent material, constructed in a manner consistent with? city code.
Violations will be considered a traffic-code infraction with a $25 fine per vehicle on the first offense, $50 on a second offense and $100 for a third offense.
The ordinance passed 3-0, with Councilor Marlene Fast absent.
Employee health plan
After extended discussion, the council voted to approve a new Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance policy for employees, includes dental and vision plans, and to authorize a third party to oversee the city?s Flexible Spending Account, sometimes called a ?flex? or ?cafeteria? plan.
Such plans allow an employee have the employer to set aside a designated amount of non-taxed compensation to cover appropriate medical-related expenses.
Those two items passed with little discussion because the new BCBS policy is expected to save the city about $69,000 in total premium expense in 2014-15.
Paine also had suggested the city designate $500 toward the flex plan of each employee to offset an deductible increase from $750 per year under the current plan to $1,400 under BCBS.
Councilor Barney McCarty, noting that employees will save $100 to $110 on the personal premium with the BCBS plan, said he was ?less fired up? about the proposed flex plan contribution.
Other models and amounts were suggested. But Mayor Delores Dalke said the most important thing for her was that city employees understand that any financial gesture by the city is only a one-year guarantee.
?Next year they can?t necessarily expect this,? she said, especially if insurance rates begin to rise.
Dalke recalled an instance a few years ago when the city ended a similar bonus benefit for employment longevity.
?Some employees thought we were taking away their money and they were angry about it,? she said. ?We were the worst people in the whole wide world.?
Dalke said the one-year limitation needs to be communicated clearly when the plan is presented to employees.
?Make them sign something so they remember they were told,? she said.
One motion on the topic failed when Dalke cast the deciding ?no? vote after the council split, 2-2. A second motion later in the meeting died for lack of a second.
Because a decision needs to be made soon, the issue may be revisited in a special meeting.
In other business, the council:
? authorized the mayor to sign a two-year facility rental agreement with Salem Home that, among other things, designates the monthly rent as $6,200 per month.
? reorganized itself for the new year by electing Bob Watson as council president.
? meeting as the Public Building Commission, selected Byron McCarty as chair for the coming year.
? approved the following appointments made by the mayor: Josh Boehme as city attorney, Brad Jantz as municipal judge and Paine as city treasurer.
? approved Ordinance 1240a that corrects a typo in Ordinance 1240 listed the monthly rate for out-of-town residential as $.01160 when it was intended to be $0.1160.
? heard from Paine, in response to a question by McCarty, that signs posted by Tabor College restricting parking along the south side of the 400 block of B Street to Tabor students would not be enforced by local law enforcement. The newly poured parking area is on city right of way.