Hillsboro to look at water rates for customers

At the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 21, Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles explained that the city of Peabody’s water rates needed to be adjusted.

As we consider adjusting rates for Hillsboro customers, we need to adjust the rates for the City of Peabody as well. The last addendum to the contract between the communities on April 22, 2014, set the rate for Peabody at $1.85 per 1,000 gallons on water for the first 50,000,000 gallons. Water in addition to the 50,000,000 would be charged at $2.00 per 1,000. The addendum also allows Hillsboro to change rates once per calendar year and requires Peabody to be notified by June 15.

Ordinance 1339 modified rates for Hillsboro users by $1.13 per 1,000 gallons. Of that $.83 was for increased treatment cost related to blue-green algae and $.30 on the raw water costs. Peabody has its own water contract with the state for 50,000,000, so that portion of water would only be subject to the $.83 raise for treatment. Any water purchased by Peabody above their 50,000,000 allotment would come from the Hillsboro amount at the Hillsboro raw water cost,” said Stiles.

He explained that by applying the same rate increase to Peabody, the new rate would be $2.68 per 1,000 gallons up to 50,000,000 gallons. He said any water above that volume would be at $3.13 because it would include the raw water cost for Hillsboro. Stiles also told the council that the Peabody City officials were advised that the rate increase was likely during a meeting we had with their water committee on Dec. 9.

According to the statistic Stiles compiled, Peabody used 45,460,000 gallons of water at a cost of $84,101 this year which has been a much higher consumption year for Peabody than previous years which averaged approximately 31,000,000 per year. Under the proposed rate increase Peabody would pay $121,832 for 45,460,000 gallons of water. This represents a 45% increase in the cost. The increase would be second since the agreement was put in place in 1999.

The council voted unanimously to approve the proposed rate adjustment for the City of Peabody to $2.68 per 1,000 gallons up to 50,000,000 gallons and $3.13 per 1,000 gallons above 50,000,000 and provide official notification to the City of Peabody.

Richard Oster of OurTown Development Initiatives joined via zoom and discussed a previously proposed agreement to retain OurTown Development Initiatives to assist the city with specific development projects to include developing housing, the reuse of the old hospital and AMPI.

Stiles and Oster explained that OurTown would provide 10 hours per month at a cost of $1,500. The initial agreement is 1 year and can be terminated with 30 days written notice.

The principals for OurTown Development Initiatives are Al Vogts and Richard Oster. Vogts is the former owner of Vogts-Parga and Vogts Construction which has done numerous projects in Hillsboro.

Oster has over four decades of experience in business running and assisting multi-billion dollar, multinational businesses.

The experience and connections that OurTown Development Initiatives brings provides the city with a skill set that we currently do not have,” said Stiles.

He said that funds for the proposed contract, $18,000 and required expenses, will come from the Industrial Fund. The fund currently supports the economic development functions of the city including the Economic Development Director position. The 2022 budget for the Industrial Fund included $10,000 for projects and an additional $2,510 for miscellaneous expenses. The additional $5,500 will be from reallocated expenses in other line items.

Council member Brent Driggers asked about how the hours will be handled if not all are used in one month but more are needed in another and Stiles and Oster said that they would keep checking in and apply the hours where needed. Oster assured the city that they would get their full money’s worth.

The council approved the proposed agreement with OurTown Development Initiative.

In other business, the council:

  •  approved awarding a bid for $34,900 to Torrey Brothers Construction to repair and recoat the Hillsboro Family Aquatics Center swimming pool.
  •  heard that there was a lot of minor damage to city roofs and downed trees from the Dec. 15 wind storm. Stiles reported that the city facilities fared well and the community appears to have fared well also. He told the council that all of the city crews did an excellent job in responding but specifically thanked the electric department for restoring service within 15 minutes of an outage at the substation. “According to our weather station at the rec complex, we had gusts up to 89 MPH and sustained wind in the 40-50 mph range,” said Stiles.
  •  learned that Evergy has made progress on the Jade substation project and slightly changed it from when the Council last discussed. The city will still be able to get a redundant service hookup through the project. Evergy is proposing to move the metering point further south on Adams street than originally proposed. They will redo poles on Adams and 3rd which should clean up the area. The city will be responsible for running any needed reconductor. Ultimately the city will have a redundant feed for a potentially lower cost than originally purposed. Evergy bidding for construction is planned for Feb. 1, construction starting around April 1 and the project should be completed in September.
  •  were informed that the equipment for the splash park has been delivered. Stiles is working on getting the installation scheduled and restrooms built. The target is to have the spray park installed for a late-May opening.
  • learned that the Hillsboro PD has hired Peyton Heidebrecht to fill the open officer position. Heidebrecht is a Marion native who is a KLETC Officer currently working in Rose Hill. Previously he worked at the Marion County jail. Heidebrecht should start by the end of the year and will be in training through January.
  • heard that since the city moved to the Freedom Choice model with FCMI for city employees in July 2021, they have retained a savings of $21,424.75 compared to what would have been spent with a fully insured model. Those savings dollars are kept in reserve to pay medical claims. To date the city has seen relatively high prescription costs compared to medical claims.
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