Hillsboroans can expect fee increases

Hillsboro residents will likely be paying higher fees for recycling, electric, water and sewer services at the start of the new calendar year.

The Hillsboro City Council reviewed and then tabled separate ordinances that will result in fee increases if passed at its next meeting.

The increase of a nickel to $1.90 per month for the recycling fee is a matter of passing on a five-cent increase to the city by the McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility.

Councilor Bob Watson noted from a recent stint as a volunteer at the recycling center that ?a lot of stuff is coming there.?

Mayor Delores Dalke agreed, noting the practice of having local volunteers manage the center ?helps a lot? to curb costs and increase use.

Ordinances to increase the base fee for water and electric are the result of a decision made during the budgeting process to fund an expected shortage in next year?s general fund through those additional revenue sources rather than raising property taxes.

The base metering fee for water will increase by $1 per month to $28.06. A $5 increase for electricity will raise the monthly charge to $9.

An unrelated funding decision made earlier by the council will increase the monthly base fee for sewer service by $8.70 to $25.45. The additional revenue will be used to pay off the new sewer bond issue in 20 years rather than following the 40-year schedule currently in place. Paying off the bond earlier will save the city nearly $2.76 million in interest.

The council agreed it made additional economic sense to pay it off early because most systems need to be upgraded in less than the 40 years needed to pay for it.

All four fee ordinances were tabled to give the public a chance to respond on or before the council?s Oct. 20 meeting.

Special-vehicle action

Operators of work-site utility vehicles and golf carts will have more latitude to drive legally on city streets after the council passed separate ordinances approving the changes.

Work-site vehicles will be allowed on city streets within the college and institutional and highway commercial zoning districts.

The intent is to allow schools, businesses and institutions in those areas to legally use streets to service their campus or business needs.

To be street legal, such a vehicle must display a slow-moving-vehicle emblem and be insured, registered, licensed and inspected. The annual registration and licensing fee would be $100.

Similar requirements will apply to golf carts, which will be allowed on city streets for the purpose of going to and from the Hillsboro Municipal Golf Course and within highway commercial zoning districts.

The council requested the ordinance include Parkside Homes as well as the college and institutional zoning district.

While both ordinances require a driver to have a valid driver?s license, the council added the stipulation that a licensed driver must be 18 years of age to drive a golf cart legally on the street.

The legal age in Kansas for driving most other vehicles is 16.

New compost site

City Administrator Larry Paine said Hillsboro residents will need to dump their yard waste in a new place now that the city has removed the compost piles from property now owned by Tabor College.

Paine said he is trying to arrange an agreement that would allow the city to rent three acres of ground owned by USD 410 in the same vicinity. The school board was expected to act on the request at its Oct. 12 meeting.

Paine said until that deal is finalized, citizens will be allowed to dump their yard waste at the site of the old city sewer plant, which is adjacent to the former dumping area.

Other business

In other business, the council heard that the city was named a ?gold star winner? by the Kansas Municipal Insurance Trust because of safety policies the city has implemented. The award entitles the city to a discount in its premiums.

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