Hillsboro City Council makes plans to hire a chief of police

Mayor Lou Thurston announced at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6 that council members Byron McCarty and David Loewen had been chosen to assist City Administrator Matt Stiles in interviewing candidates to replace retired Chief of Police Dan Kinning. Both members accepted the roles.

The council heard an annual report from Fire Chief Ben Steketee who reported that they have a new firefighter, Nathan Schafer, who started on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Mitch DeFiesta and Rusty Walter will also be starting soon once they have all of their paperwork completed and turned into the city. Walter will not be fighting fires but will be an assistant to Steketee with administrative tasks. Two more prospects, Jessie Dirks and a former member of the Valley Center volunteer department Blake Boddington, may be joining soon as well. The firefighters lost one firefighter to suicide last year.

He reported that they fought two back-to-back fires last week in one night. One fire was in Hillsboro and one was in Lehigh.

“That was a long night,” said Steketee.

Steketee reported that they have already been able to use almost all of the items they got with the grants they secured last year, especially the rescue boats that were purchased.

Managing Director Greg Vahrenberg with Raymond James Public Finance reported to the council that Emprise Bank was the local bank that bid on the bonds with a 1½ percent rate for the refund total of $33,063. The bond ordinance and bond resolution will allow the council to move forward and lock in the rate.

The council had previously voted on cashing in the particular bonds. Vahrenberg then worked on finding a bank to offer an acceptable rate.

The council voted unanimously to accept the bid.

Stiles reported that the Strategic Plan has been reviewed and he felt it was ready for approval.

“If approved we’ll publish it on the website. Most of the changes between the draft from the last meeting to this draft were formatting changes. The plan will also be printed to use as a development tool. There are lots of people in the community who have been interested in the plan and

our progress. Each council member will get a binder with more detailed information that we’ll use for

regular updates. The plan is to do a regular quarterly update at the Council meeting, though we may

be more active than that with updates,” said Stiles.

The council approved the proposed Strategic Plan and authorized distribution.

Stiles told the council that with Chief Kinning’s Oct. 1 retirement it is a good time to review and revise the job description for Chief of Police.”

“The majority of the description is unchanged from the current approved version. The most significant changes are the addition of portions about code enforcement and a bachelor’s degree being preferred. At this point, code enforcement is handled by a committee with the PD assisting. In the future that may change, so adding the proposed language allows for changes,” Stiles said.

The council approved the new job description.

In other business, the council:

n recognized Jan Meisinger for her 42 years of service to the city. She retired in June.

n approved a proposed engagement letter with Adams Brown for auditing service for fiscal years

2021, 2022 and 2023. The fiscal year 2020 marked the end of the previous three year agreement with Adams Brown for auditing services. Proposed fees for the three year period are $17,750, $18,275 and

$18,830 for a total of $54,855. Each year increases 3% from the previous year.

n learned that the current city employee handbook has no appeal process for employees regarding disciplinary action. Stiles presented a policy and it was approved.

n agreed to move the city council meeting start time to 6:30 p.m. for the months of November, December and January in ordered to accommodate Council member David Loewen’s job as middle school basketball coach.

n met in executive session to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel. No action was taken.

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