Hillsboro council votes to refinance bonds

The Hillsboro City Council took three actions at its Nov. 2 meeting that should enhance the city?s financial situation over the not-too-distant future.

Meeting as the Public Build?ing Commission, members first approved a resolution that would refinance the city?s revenue bonds that were used in 2005 to finance the construction of the family aquatic center.

Because of lower interest rates, refinancing would save the city about $235,000 over the life of the bond and $190,000 in present savings, according to J.T. Klaus, the city?s bond counsel.

The latter amount is nearly equivalent to an entire year?s payment, according to City Administrator Larry Paine.

Back in session as the city council, members agreed to move ahead with the process to refinance a combination of four general obligation bonds with a projected savings to the city of around $101,000.

The combined principal of the four bonds is nearly $1.9 million.

On a third matter, the council agreed to hold a hearing at 4 p.m. Dec. 7 for the purpose of receiving input from the public on the city?s proposal to designate the Hillsboro Business Park and the adjoining city-owned AMPI property as a tax-increment financing district.

The designation would authorize the city to capture all taxes generated from those properties rather than dividing them with other tax units, such as USD 410, Marion County and the state of Kansas.

The money would be used to pay off the $400,000 in improvements the city financed to accommodate the construction of the new Midway Motors dealership within Hillsboro Busi?ness Park.

The TIF proposal will be on the regular council agenda Dec. 7 for a decision following the public hearing.

Public notices

The council expressed support for an offer from the Hillsboro Free Press to publish the city?s public notices on its Web site at no charge to the city.

Councilor Bob Watson highlighted a letter from publisher Joel Klaassen outlining the offer. Klaassen asked only that the city forward to the newspaper the electronic file for each notice so it could be uploaded.

Klaassen said the Free Press does not charge a subscription to access its Web site and has the ability to report the number of ?hits? each notice receives.

When Watson asked Paine if the offer had a downside, Paine said no.

?Getting notices in front of the public is important,? Paine said.

More gifts to the city

After accepting an offer at its Oct. 26 meeting by Eldred Kunkel to give the city the remaining 19 lots in the Willow Glen housing development, the council agreed to accept Kunkel?s offer of grain he has on storage at Cooperative Grain & Supply.

The grain, harvested in 2008-09, was valued at $1,066.

Kunkel deeded the properties to the city in lieu of paying the annual property taxes on the remaining lots.

The city is obligated to pay the remaining special assessments on the development even if the property remains in Kunkel?s name.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? heard Paine point out that the most recent sales tax report for Hillsboro indicates that for the first time, the total for 2010 exceeds the total for 2009.

? asked for a representative of EBH & Associates, engineers for the city?s recently completed wastewater treatment project, to come to a future council meeting to clear up confusion about the absence of aerators in the lagoon bonds.

Some council members recalled conversations with EBH in which they understood aerators would be included. Aerators agitate the water in the ponds, which helps to reduce odors.

Though the project plans were discussed before his arrival, Paine said he did not think aerators would normally be included in the type of project Hillsboro ultimately approved.

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