Hillsboro seeking CDBG

of $400,000 for streets

This is the target area the Hillsboro City Council’s street-replacement projects intended for the north edge of town. The city will be submitting an application for a Community Development Block Grant for $400,000, to be matched by city funding. Successful grant applications will be announced in January.The Hillsboro City Coun­cil took initial steps during its Sept. 20 meeting toward an $800,000 street reconstruction project on the north side of town.

The target area includes the 200 and 300 blocks of North Washington, North Lincoln, North Jeffer­son and the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of East Second Street.

The city is hoping to fund the project with the help of a maximum $400,000 Com­munity Devel­op­ment Block Grant, which the city would match with local funding.

City Administrator Larry Paine said he had considered additional projects along Birch and Cedar streets, which would have raised the cost to about $1.7 million.

“This means we will submit applications for certain parts of the overall cost one year, so we can maximize the grant awards,” he said. “This might be a two- or three-year process of apply-award-construct these projects.”

To qualify for a CDBG, 51 percent of households in the targeted area need to qualify as low-to-moderate income, as determined by the Depart­ment of Com­merce. Family size is part of the formula.

Income surveys have been distributed to the households in the project area and the process of collecting the results is already underway, according to Rose Mary Saunders, who attended the meeting as senior consultant for Ranson Financial Consultants.

To move the application process along, the council first held a brief public hearing—with no comment from the public.

After the project was presented and discussed, the council approved two preliminary resolutions. The first one authorized the mayor to sign the CDBG application, and the second one provides assurances to the Depart­ment of Com­merce that the city will properly maintain the new streets once the project is completed.

In an effort to complete as much street repair as possible, but still remain within the $800,000 funding limit, city engineer Darrin Neufeld of EBH & Associates said not every street in the 12-block target area will be completely rebuilt, and do not need to be.

“Not all of these blocks are going to require everything to be done on them,” he said, citing the two-block stretch of Jefferson as an example. “The curb and gutter is not that bad and has been replaced more recently than the stand-up curb.

“We may end up de-scoping (the project) a little bit so that not all parts of every street would need to be done.”

Neufeld said immediate goals are to settle on the target area, identify everything that needs replacement and collect the income surveys.

On the latter, Saunders said, “We like to give (households) two weeks to respond, and then we actually go out and start knocking on doors to be able to firm up the numbers.”

The project does have one complication. Because CDBG money must be used in residential areas, the city cannot use the funds, nor any of the city’s matching funds, to rebuild a short section of North Washington that fronts a commercial car wash.

Neufeld said that portion of the street would need to be a separate project paid for only with city funds that are not related to the rest of the CDBG project.

“If the city pays for it 100 percent, we can still have it done—but it would look a little piecemeal,” Neufeld said.

Saunders said the CDBG application needs to be submitted by Nov. 1; approved projects will be announced the third week of January 2017.

Salem Home rent

As a followup to two previous executive-session discussions with the leadership of the Salem Home Board of Directors, the council approved a request that would exempt Salem from paying rent for six months for the city-owned facility it occupies.

“Several weeks ago, Salem came to us with news that due to state budget cuts and payment delays, they experienced a cash-flow problem,” Paine said in his memo to the council.

“After some negotiation, I have a proposal that would allow for rent abatement for six months, beginning Oct. 1 through March 31. During that time, pending cases will be completed and the permanent administrator will have time to implement strategies to improve the cash flow.”

With no further discussion, the council approved the agreement, drafted by City Attorney Josh Boehm, by a 4-0 vote. The financial impact, to the city and for the home, will be $6,500.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• following a 15-minute executive session, voted 4-0 to authorize Paine to begin a search for an additional full-time worker for the street department. Paine said funds exist to support the position the rest of 2016 and was included in the 2017 budget.

• heard a brief update about the Kansas Power Pool by Mark Chesney, its general manager. Chesney thanked the city for its involvement with the utility provider and for the contributions of Paine, who serves on the KPP board.

• passed a proclamation designating Oct. 2-8 as “Pub­lic Power Week” in Hills­boro. It cites the following benefits of being a public power agency rather than a corporate client: (1) the electrical system is owned by the local community; (2) emergency response to outages is managed locally; (3) the stockholders are the local citizens and electrical decisions are made locally; (4) the city is able to join other municipalities for purchasing electricity to achieve a more competitive rate; (5) citizens have an influential voice regarding decisions and policies affecting energy delivery.

• approved a cereal malt beverage license for the Dollar General store as it prepares to move into its new building later this fall.

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