Hillsboro City Council gets updates on numerous projects

The Hillsboro City Council met on Tuesday, May 4. Council member Brent Driggers led the meeting since Mayor Lou Thurston was gone.

The council learned that the city’s wastewater lagoon systems have been having issues with

sludge buildup and meeting ammonia levels required by KDHE.

“Both those issues result in the some unpleasant odors at certain times of the year which impact residents. Last time we discussed the problems, we noted that Barkman Honey has a disproportionate impact on the system, providing 40% of the loading. Staff have been working with EBH on a potential

solution and have had a few discussions with Barkman on the issue,” said City Administrator Matt Stiles. “Within our ordinances, we have the ability to compel people to make improvements.”

As part of the project, the city has had conversations with Barkman Honey about splitting the

costs as they are disproportionate contributors. The improvements would also solve the problem

with the current arrangement where Barkman hauls its washout waste to the old wastewater

plant and dumps in an old tank which is no longer serviceable. With the upgrades and the

addition of a monitoring station on site for Barkman, the honey washout could be discharged

directly into the sewer system.

Alan Lutrell, of EBH Engineering, presented a plan for potential improvements. He explained that the city is located in part of the Mississippi River Valley so all of the water flows down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico where there are hundreds of miles of dead water. The EPA has decided that things have progressed to a level where it’s time to do something. They are working on limiting the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen and have decided that anyone who is part of the problem needs to start being part of the solution. Lutrell said that one of the biggest contributors is farmers.

He explained that the sludge is currently 18 inches deep so in order to help with the solution, the plan is for the city to install 10 floating aerators and a series of baffles in the first cell of the lagoon. The aerators pull the sludge layer and waste up from the bottom of the lagoon and disperse them like a low fountain to incorporate more air into the mix. That air allows the biological process in the lagoon to accelerate, breaking down the waste more efficiently and reducing the sludge over

time. The baffle system is needed to channel the flow of waste through the aerators.

The total cost for the improvements at the lagoon is estimated to be $228,670. EBH proposes to request Barkman Honey to pay $70,100 based on their contributions and the City pay the remaining $158,570 for the lagoon improvements.

Barkman would also be required to install the needed monitoring equipment on site at a proposed cost of $83,900. The request for Barkman would be $154,000 as projected, however the final cost would be based on actual costs.

More discussion with Barkman Honey is needed to negotiate their financial commitment. No action was taken at the meeting.

Federal funding awarded

Stiles informed the council that as part of the last round of federal funding responding to the pandemic, state and local governments are set to receive $360 billion in aid. The state of Kansas will receive

$1.568 billion and cities are set to receive $424 million.

He said that Hillsboro is estimated to receive $394,217.61. Payments would come in two parts, one

around May 10 and a second in May 2022. Funds must be expended by December 31,

2024 or returned to US Treasury.

Stiles explained that the funds are restricted in use and must be tracked. Treasury guidance is need on many of the items, but there are generally four areas that the money can be spent on.

1. To respond to the COVID-19 and its negative impacts including assistance to

households, small businesses and nonprofits or to aid industries such as tourism, travel

and hospitality.

2. To provide premium pay to essential workers responding to the pandemic.

3. Revenue replacement as a result of the pandemic.

4. Making necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. (More

guidance needed)

“This a significant influx of money, but it is restricted in use and must be tracked. The amount could also potentially trigger a single federal audit requirement if additional funds were to come into the community. We want to do this right because it is not worth the hassle if we don’t,” said Stiles. “As with any federal program we need to proceed with caution and wait for the appropriate guidance. There is some flexibility with these funds however there is a significant amount of grey area. With the one-time funds such as these it wise to focus on capital projects, specifically ones that are impactful for the whole community.”

No action was needed or taken.

Stiles explained that Evergy is replacing the substation that services Hillsboro and construction is set

to begin in the next year. As part of the project Evergy has been doing transformer maintenance. “Working with our electrical staff, Evergy was able to complete transformer maintenance by switching the city to a distribution circuit of Evergy. The result was that the maintenance was completed without the city losing power. However it was discovered at that time that the solution resulted in the city receiving unmetered power. In Evergy’s system, the switching triggered the need to install a meter. That meter will be installed at the city shop on North Adams at a cost of approximately $20,000 to the city,” said Stiles.

He also explained that as part of the substation project, Evergy is also proposing rebuilding the existing Evergy distribution circuit up to the new meter from the new substation up Industrial Road and looping

back west to the meter on North Adams. This would be a secondary feed from Evergy to be

used only in times of emergency. With some additional work from the city that circuit could supply the whole town if Evergy needed to perform maintenance in the future. Those upgrades would be at no

cost to the city as long as there was never an outage during a peak time (summer months). That triggers a billing mechanism that would allow Evergy to recover the cost of new line. Barring an emergency situation the city can direct when maintenance outages occur to avoid peak months.

“Under this scenario the city would be responsible for rebuilding/upgrading .5 mile of circuit from

the interconnect on Adams between 1st and 2nd up to the new meter by the city shop. Completing the project gives the city redundancy in supplying power from Evergy,” said Stiles. “In the event

of an issue withthe main feed into town, the city could switch over to the proposed configuration

without cutting service. Essentially it gives the city a back-up option to reroute power supply for

the whole community. KPP has recommended pursuing the project to enhance reliability.”

The council unanimously approved the meter that Evergy is going to install.

Stiles explained that the $20,000 is for materials assuming that city electric crews can do the work. If the city crews cannot do the work it would likely be $40,000.

The council did not make any decisions about when the project would be done.

In other business, the council:

n heard an update from an employee at EBH regarding the walk and bike trail being built. He reported that they are poured up past Adams St and will be pouring from Main Street back the other way towards Adams. The project is projected to be done in about two weeks. He also gave an update on the project near Industrial Road. The intersection there will be closed down for five to six weeks in order for the work to be done.

n learned that Countryside Feed has requested that the city assist with $8,785 for the replacement of the

approach and drainage on the Industrial Road side of the project. Stiles explained that the current approach and drainage on Industrial will not support the volume of truck traffic projected. The improvements do have a positive impact on the city’s infrastructure particularly the storm water for that area. Stiles further explained that the funds for participating would come from the CIP fund. He said considering the improvement that the project makes to the city’s stormwater system and impact of overall project to flow of traffic in the industrial park, the

request seems like reasonable expenditure for the city.

n learned that the new city website update from Baker Brothers will launch the third week of May. Along with that, the city will also be launching our Front Desk platform. With that feature, the city will be working to transition our ACH customers over to the system. Front Desk will allow users to manage their own reoccurring utility payments.

n heard that to improve safety for customers, the city office is making some changes to how they are

accepting credit cards. They are removing the option to write your credit card numbers on the bill forms due to the location of the drop box at city hall and the lack of wisdom to have credit card information written on those forms that could potentially be accessed by others when the drop box is stuffed full. The city is also phasing out taking credit card numbers of the phone for safety reasons. With the addition of Front Desk, there are much more secure methods to pay their bills with credit cards and check. As always the city is happy to take cash, check and credit/debit card payments in person at City Hall and customers can mail or drop off their payments in cash or check with their bills.

n learned that the sales tax receipts are attached. Receipts are currently $34,769.81 or 16% higher than last year.

More from Laura Fowler Paulus
Marion City Library wins big award
Head librarian of Marion City Library, Janet Marler, announced the library received...
Read More