We have an important election coming up Tuesday, Aug. 7. Presidential elections get a lot of publicity and the election cycle never seems to end anymore. However, the most important elections, the ones that impact your and my lives the most, happen at the local and state level. Your local and state elected officials deal with issues that are closest to the public, and they are making decisions that affect us every day. It’s our streets, roads, schools, utilities, emergency services and yes, the taxes to fund these things that they have control over.
If we are happy with the decisions being made, then we re-elect those in office; it we’re not happy we look to someone new to step up and lead. There is a decision that will impact Hillsboro significantly and that is the election of a County Commissioner to represent District 1. Currently Kent Becker is completing the term of former commissioner Lori Lalouette and is running for the seat. Also running for the position are Craig Dodd and Larry Cushenberry. I strongly encourage Hillsboro voters to educate themselves about the candidates, their positions on the issues and specifically how they will represent you, the citizens of Hillsboro at the county government level. Polling will take place at the Methodist Church in Hillsboro and again, I encourage your participation. Your vote does count!
As has been reported recently, the city of Hillsboro has submitted bids for a new trash truck. I wanted to provide you with some additional information in regards to our plans for trash service and recycling going forward. We have carefully reviewed the costs of privatizing our trash service, operating as we have with a manual truck and going forward with a fully automatic truck. The costs to own and operate a fully automatic truck, with only one operator, offers a savings of more than 30 percent over the current manual truck with two operators. We believe that the bids for the truck will come in somewhere around $280,000. We currently have $172,795 in the fund reserve.
There will also be the added costs of new containers (see photo above). The city of Newton operates trucks like those we are looking at. Their pick-up rate is 900 per day; in Hillsboro we make 900 pick-ups per week. The new truck will give us efficiency, cost-savings and very importantly to many, curb-side recycling. We will be able to reduce our landfill requirements and do so without adding costs to our current service. It will be different and it is change, but I believe that it is change for the better and will help make Hillsboro an affordable and family friendly place to live.
As I write this column, City Administrator Larry Paine is hard at work on the City Budget for 2019. At our last City Council meeting, we set Tuesday, Aug. 7 for our public hearing on the budget. The budget will be published in this week’s paper for your review. I will warn you now, the published mill levy will be approximately 52.182 (an increase of seven mills over current year). I can assure you, however, that we are continuing to work to reduce the levy and to do so may require budget cuts that affect us all. We will do everything in our power not to raise taxes, but I know everyone wants to maintain the level of city services to which we have become accustomed. The thing we need to avoid is to start “robbing from Peter to pay Paul.” That would be to move funds from utilities into the general fund. We have all seen how that worked out for the state of Kansas the last several years.
I want to encourage you to review the budget, talk to me, talk to your city council member and let us know what you think. Remember your voice (and vote) counts!