Hillsboro council still has cuts to make to budget

The Hillsboro City Council spent almost one hour reviewing the preliminary budget for 2019 at its meeting July 3.

Larry Paine, city administrator, said when the initial data was put into the 2019 revenues and expenses, it showed $345,000 more in expenses than revenue, which needs to be dealt with.

During the next two council sessions, the budget will continue being reviewed, then published with the public hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Some of the areas Paine said have changed, affecting the budget, included:

◼dollar amounts are lower than in 2018 because the state is changing valuation of motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles and watercraft.

“This is the first time cities are seeing this change,” Paine said.

◼sales tax is lower than when compared to the month last year.

◼the fire department is requesting an increase in the call-out fee from $12 to $15. “Marion has been at $15 [for call-outs] for a number of years,” he said.

◼pool salaries are up from the previous two years from $54,000 to $83,000. Paine questioned how many people are working at the pool.

◼the municipal golf course is asking for an additional $25,000 to purchase Zoysia grass seed for the fairways only. Mayor Lou Thurston said he did some personal research on this type of grass.

“It reduces the amount of water needed, chemicals used and amount of mowing,” he said. “The payback in savings would pay for the seed in three years.”

◼Other expenses include the Marion County Community Economic Development Corp. at the same rate as in 2018.

Some areas that Paine believes he can cut to bring down the expense-side would be to cut $186,000 from the special highway fund by cutting out chip seal.

“We also had an unexpected revenue source from the wind farm project of $10,000 a month for water,” he said.

In addition, the water department is requesting another person be hired so that the new hire can be trained by Tom Richards, who is retiring in 2019, offsetting the revenue for the water.

Other highlights included electric and water rate adjustments and a new sanitation truck costing $452,795. For the truck expense, Paine said a deduction would need to be made from cash reserve for what’s available.

Paine said he will continue to work on the budget line items and bring back revisions at the next meeting.

In other business, the council:

◼planned a public hearing for the Groves Addition Assessment District on Tuesday, July 17, in council chambers. The council was asked to approve the resolutions so that assessments could be charged in the 2019 tax season, Paine added. Documents, he said, are being mailed to property owners for the sewer improvement work at a cost of $115,293. Assessments will include 16 lots owned by Russell Groves at $6,369 each; Grace Church tract at $10,099 and a portion of Hillsboro Development at $3,288, with one portion paid by the city at $10,000.

“The city’s portion is not in the resolution because we are participating rather than being assessed,” Paine said.

◼heard from Darin Neufeld, EBH Engineering, who said bids were opened earlier on July 3 for two projects. The first was for D Street mill and overlay with the low bid from Pearson Construction at $455,670 to include 1.5 inches of mill and overlay starting at Prairie Point to and through Floral Drive intersection. The additional alternate bid of $46,095 would continue the mill and overlay from Floral to the Hillsboro Municipal Airport.

◼approved Hett Construction for D Street improvements on valley gutters at a cost of $53,450. Neufeld said that while not all are valley gutters, five cross street entrances needing concrete include the north side of Main Street; north side of Washington Street; halfway through both sides of Adams Street and Birchwood Apartments, where there is a big hole in the entrance needing to correct so drainage flows correctly.

◼reviewed and approved trash truck bid specifications to include truck having rear load with addition of side arm that will pick up poly-cart waste containers. The new trash truck would also have right- and left-hand drive, similar to mail vehicles. It would also have the capability of picking up curbside trash and recycling with automated equipment, needing only one operator rather than two. Thurston said he liked the idea of this new vehicle reducing labor and increasing efficiency.

“I am also excited about increasing recycling participation,” he said.

It was noted that Hutchinson is no longer paying for recycling, but Thurston said even so, the trash stays out of the landfill and the city isn’t paying more to dump it.

◼approved the mayor’s reappointment of Bob Dalke to the Hillsboro Housing Authority.

◼discussed issues with digger truck used for putting utility poles in the ground and problems with the hydraulics. Paine said the repair would be $16,000.

◼heard from Paine regarding customer service and the need to notify city customers when water is being shut off.

“When we don’t notify customers,” he said, “it makes their lives miserable.”