Hillsboro approves several improvement projects

Funds for improvement projects were the common theme for many presentations at the City of Hillsboro council meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

Brent Unruh, president of the Marion County Fair Board, discussed the renovations of the 4-H building located on the Marion County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro. The board has been working on the project since before COVID-19 hit. The board is looking to make it a community building for the county. Unruh reported that they currently have $35,000 built up to go towards the renovation.

“I’ve written a couple of grants, and we got one accepted for $5,000. I’ve got two or three more out still that I haven’t heard back from yet,” said Unruh.

He explained that the HVAC system alone is $51,000, and the electrical is $24,000, not including the main supply from the city.

“It’s a pretty substantial amount that we are looking at. What I am asking from the city is a financial contribution of $15,000 if the city is still on board with helping out,” said Unruh.

Unruh said he gave the county a proposal the week before, during which he stated that he was nervous about moving forward with the project until he had all of the money since the money is not his money to spend. He said that they agreed to front the rest of the project at $45,000, with the stipulation that he lower the amount down as much as he can.

“They assured me that the project was funded, basically,” said Unruh.

Hillsboro Mayor Thurston asked about the transformers for the electrical output for the building. Unruh stated that he spoke with Todd Helmer, City of Hillsboro electrical engineer, and learned that the electricity that feeds the school buildings is the same voltage that the 4-H building would need. The thought is to update the transformer to serve both buildings.

Unruh mentioned that with continuing rising costs of supplies and work, it makes sense to secure it all and get the building done as soon as possible before costs rise even more.

“Don’t you have some contracting businesses donating for a lot of that stuff?” asked Thurston.

Unruh replied that some businesses are helping out, while others want to but have to figure out where they are at with profits so far this year.

Unruh said they are planning to put in an additional exit door, which will increase the capacity amount by 500. While they had hoped to improve the kitchen and add to the outside appearance, they are holding off at this time until they have some rental income to help fund that.

“The projects are endless on that building once we start,” said Unruh.

Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles said there are funds in the capital improvement fund and possibly in another federal fund. He pointed out that there may be some additional cost if the transformers need to be altered.

Stiles asked about the gymnastics classes that are currently renting and using the building. Unruh stated that the plan is to move them over to the commercial building.

The council voted and approved to contribute the $15,000.

Hillsboro Street Superintendent Dale Dalke also gave the council a report and explained that the city is in need of replacing some of their equipment as well as acquiring a few pieces of equipment they do not have.

“We would like to sell the 1991 John Deere for approximately $10,000 and purchase a new loader backhoe for approximately $120,000.We would like to purchase a hydro vacuum excavation trailer for approximately $80,000. This piece of equipment would be used to locate underground utilities without damaging them with mechanical ways of excavating,” said Dalke.

Dalke said they would also like to purchase a used enclosed job site trailer for approximately $10,000. He explained that the trailer would mostly be used to store screeds, saws, small compaction equipment, materials and tools used for placing concrete on the job site.

“We don’t need name brand or anything fancy. We are basically just going to use it around town unless we have to take it to Wichita for items,” said Dalke. “If we have a trailer we can keep the equipment in, we don’t have to load them and unload them. We can just keep them loaded and drive them to the job site,” said Dalke.

Thurston asked about having local businesses make the trailer since the cost of used ones have risen so much. Dalke mentioned there were a few possibilities, but they hadn’t fully explored that issue, since they didn’t have approval from the council. He said he could look into it more.

Dalke said they would like to purchase a used mid-sized excavator for approximately $40,000. He explained that a loader backhoe is limited to a 180-degree swinging radius, so they often have to dig with the backhoe and then put the material in a dump truck in a narrow alley or be able to swing 360 degrees to place the material. An excavator would allow them to operate more easily. This equipment could also be used by multiple departments.

Dalke explained that they needed additional equipment but prioritized what was needed most and what they can manage to make do with for longer.

The council approved Dalke to submit bids for loader backhoe and hydo vac trailer. They also approved the purchase of used job trailer, not to exceed $13,000.

In other business, the council:

•heard a report from Hillsboro Golf Course Superintendent Avery Unruh. Unruh reported that they are saving 5 to 8 million gallons of water, thanks to the new Zoysia grass fairways. He stated that the hope is that the new fairways will help with membership numbers that had taken a hit due to the pandemic and the opening of a new golf course in Newton. Future projects for the year include new welcome signs, a possible driving range project, a new replacement fence between the park and golf course, tearing down the old wheel house and cutting down diseased trees, as well as small projects that will be done with help of the Hillsboro Golf Association and volunteers. Unruh suggested some ways that the council could help with capital improvements, such as new cart paths, since flooding often causes a need for better paths, resurfacing the service road, new drainpipes for the cart bridge due to rust occurring there, clubhouse remodel, driving range improvements and planting new trees. Thurston and Stiles suggested taking advantage of grants for some of the desired improvements. Stiles stated that there are some funds available for new trees.

•learned that the city received five bids for mowing service. The bids came from Biggest Little Lawn Care (Halstead), Plenert Mowing & Outdoor Services (Hillsboro), Ryan Hefley (Hillsboro), Mike Duerksen (Hillsboro) and Sunny Slope LLC (Durham).

Stiles said, “Not surprisingly cost increased from last year. The addition of the swimming pool and Memorial Park also increased the price.”

Stiles gave the example of mowing for Areas 1 through 4, which will now cost $9,905 for the season. The previous season, the same areas were $6,265 for the season. The reason for that was that Ken Carlson mowed those areas and was much lower than his nearest competitors. The $9,905 is a competitive price and less than what the city can do the work for, according to Stiles.

•approved Ordinance 1345 to move future city council meetings to 6:30 p.m. The meetings will continue to be the first and third Tuesday of each month and any other time that is required for city business.

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