Residents challenge ‘benefit district’

Several residents from Floral Drive expressed their displeasure at an Aug. 5 public hearing about being included in a proposed benefit district that will pay for improvements that are intended address flooding problems in their neighborhood after heavy rains.

The hearing was part of the agenda for the regular city council meeting.

The flooding problems have been caused by an inadequate drainage plan in the West Winds development that lies to the immediate west of the Floral properties.

The public hearing was to receive comments for one component of the city?s plan to address the problem: to construct curb and guttering, a road base and asphalt top starting at Hickory Street, beginning just south of the intersection with West A Street, and continue along West B Street to Floral.

The street, currently a gravel road, lies along the north end of West Winds.

Residents recognized that they will likely benefit from the project, but felt the current developer should be responsible for the improvements, not them.

City Administrator Larry Paine said in the mid-1990s, the council at the time allowed the original developers to proceed with the project without first doing the drainage work required by city ordinance.

The work was never completed.

?That time has come and gone, and now we?re here,? Paine said.

One resident asked if the houses along Floral built before 1994 couldn?t be exempt from the proposed benefit district.

Another resident asked whether the city as a whole shouldn?t bear some of the financial burden because of the council?s ?mistake? in the mid-1990s.

?It?s not a whole-city issue,? Paine said. ?It?s a neighborhood issue.?

Paine said the street project likely will start in spring.

Budget hearing

Following that public hearing, the council convened a public hearing for the 2009 budget.

The only public comment came from Kermit Ratzlaff and Menno Lohrenz, members of the Hillsboro Senior Center board, who expressed disappointment that the city had turned down board?s request for a line item of $28,000 to subsidize the center?s operation.

?One would think as one looks down the line items (in the proposed budget) that some funds could be found to assist the senior center,? Ratzlaff said.

?One gets the impression that this is an indication of what the city thinks of the seniors here,? he added. ?We hope the council will recognize the great (financial) need that?s developing at the senior center.?

Mayor Delores Dalke replied that the city is facing budget issues of its own. She said she was surprised that no one else had come to the hearing to express concern that the council had published a tentative budget with a 10-mill property tax increase.

Dalke said the council intends to keep the mill levy at around 40 mills, where it has been for the past 10 years or so.

?Maybe the public doesn?t care if we raise taxes,? she said. ?I don?t see anybody here to object to raising the mill levy by 10 mills. I am amazed at the apathy of our citizens.?

She told Ratzlaff and Lohrenz the council would review the senior center?s funding request at a budget work session planned for later that evening.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n authorized the Hillsboro Police Department to install no-parking signs along South Adams from D Street north to 408 S. Adams.

A residents had complained that Tabor College students had parked so close to driveways during the past school year that residents had difficulty pulling in and out of the drive safely.

n approved the mayor?s appointment of Krista Heinrichs for another term on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

n encouraged city engineer Bob Privitetra to submit plans to the Kansas Department of Transportation regarding entrances and street improvements in the newly platted Hillsboro Business Park.

Dalke said Midway Motors is working on plans to build a new dealership in the park and she hopes the engineering work will be ready when Midway is ready to begin the construction.

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