Hillsboro council OKs difficult budget

Following a public hearing that generated no public comment, the Hillsboro City Council approved at its Aug. 17 meeting a budget for 2011 made more challenging than usual because of revenue limitations.

Some of the key components of the budget were:

? a mill levy increase of 1.563 mills to 41.743;

? no staff salary adjustments for the second year in a row;

? the elimination of the two paid positions for Hillsboro Museums;

? a freeze on equipment purchases, except for police cars;

? a delay in starting an equipment-replacement fund for the fleet of vehicles valued at more than $4 million.

At the same time, the new budget will allow for $1.6 million in new street construction, using funds freed up with the final payment on a bond issue in 2010.

Following the vote, Coun?cilor Byron McCarty praised the work of City Administrator Larry Paine and City Clerk Jan Meisinger in putting the budget together.

?It was a tough year,? McCarty said.

He also expressed his desire that the city find a way to adjust city salaries in 2012.

?I?d hate to see them go three years without an increase,? McCarty said.

The city will be publishing an ordinance notifying the public of the mill increase, as required by the state.

Chatting about chat

The council approved a plan from street superintendent Dale Dalke for chip-sealing streets this fall.

APAC-Emporia bid the project at $76,286, but Dalke said the city only has about $65,000 in its Special Highway fund, so his initial list of targeted streets will need to be ?whittled down.?

The initial list included Sports Complex Road; Memorial Park Road; Washington north of D Street; F Street between Washington and Lincoln; Washington, Lincoln and Madison between Second and Third streets; Jefferson between First and Third streets; and Second between Washington and Adams streets.

?APAC has a small window of time to do the job in mid to late September, depending on the weather,? Dalke reported.

The project was approved in concept, but not without questions.

Mayor Delores Dalke restated her desire that chip-seal projects happen in June to ensure a proper seal before the arrival of cold weather.

Paine said the street department?s work schedule makes it difficult to accommodate an earlier start.

Councilor Bob Watson asked about Dalke?s intention to use chat from Picher, Okla., a former lead-zinc mining town now included in the Environmental Protection Agency?s Tar Creek Superfund after children living there were found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies.

Watson said he was under the impression that the state of Okla?homa had quit using Picher chat because of safety concerns.

Dale Dalke indicated Hills?boro had used chat from Picher ?for many years? before switching last year to the soft limestone chat that caused dust problems in town for several months.

He mentioned a couple of other options the city could use if the council preferred it.

The council directed Paine and Dale Dalke to investigate the matter.

Pay agreement

The council approved a pay agreement for the city?s current economic development director in partnership with the Hills?boro Development Corp. and Hillsboro Ventures Inc.

The agreement calls for the city to provide 86.83 percent of the director?s compensation package with HDC and HVI each paying 6.7 percent.

For 2011, that means a contribution of $39,556 from the city and $3,000 each from HDC and HVI for a total of $45,558 for the full-time position currently filled by Clint Seibel. The city?s portion will be transferred to the industrial fund from the electricity utility.

In addition to salary, the package includes FICA/Medicare, health insurance, unemployment compensation, life insurance, KPERS retirement, workers compensation, auto expenses and mileage. HDC and HVI provide a cell phone.

The agreement will be terminated when ?the current director?s position becomes vacant.?

In addition to compensation, the agreement calls for an oversight committee comprised of two representatives from the city and one member from both HDC and HVI.

The purpose of the committee is: to guide the direction of the position; provide feedback to each agency; manage, hire, contract, evaluate and/or terminate the director; and prepare an annual budget and salary recommendation for the city budget by July 1 of each year.

Under the agreement, the city agrees to provide an office and related business services for the director, while HDC and HVI provide office supplies and furnishings.

The agreement was negotiates over several months by Paine and Councilor Shelby Dirks representing the city and Lyman Adams and Brad Bartel representing HDC and HVI.

Although Dirks was absent from the council meeting, Mayor Dalke conveyed his desire that funding for the position be voted on by residents as a mill increase for the city?s industrial fund, which currently receives a 1-mill contribution.

Paine said Dirk?s suggestion comes too late for the 2011 budget, but could be considered for the 2012 budget.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? decided not to fix leaking roofs over portions of the city-owned AMPI building because estimates were deemed to be too costly. (See story, Page 6A.)

? approved the first pay estimate from the contractor, Vogts-Parga Construction, for work done in the Hillsboro Business Park. The amount was $65,219.

? approved a change order for the HBP project calling for a concrete encasement of the sewer line where it crosses the water line, as required by the state. The change will cost $1,443.

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