City scrambles to fix errors

Hillsboro City Council members were told at the March 6 meeting that the city’s 2007 operating budget had been declared out of compliance by the state.

Without an approved budget, the city is not allowed to spend the funds it has budgeted for.

Mayor Delores Dalke said work was already under way to correct the problems identified by the Kansas Department of Administration.

Most errors had to do with the way entries were categorized in the transfer schedule. Also, some line items were labeled as “Not required to budget” that were in fact required to show receipts and expenditures.

Dalke said the mistakes occurred following an administrative decision not to seek help from city auditors, as had been done in past years.

She said the problems should be resolved without significant impact to the city’s operation.

“It will cost us some money,” she said. “But we have to do it. We have no choice.”

Development idea

The council also heard an initial proposal for a business development on city-owned land that was formerly part of the AMPI property.

“I’m trying to show you my dream,” said veteran Hillsboro businessman Albert Reimer.

That dream includes a business development on the east side of Ash Street, north of the former AMPI building to U.S. Highway 56. He described that areas as the primary growth corridor for business growth in Hillsboro.

The “first piece” of that development would include a new building that would house his current business, Reimer Classic Cars, which he and son Melvin would expand to include merchandise and services that would appeal to recreation enthusiasts who come to Marion Reservoir.

Reimer showed the council detailed plans for a building that would measure 50 feet by 60 feet, with an opportunity to expand it in two directions.

“I would build it so there’s a market for it,” he said.

Reimer said he would hope the city would help with the development of streets and utilities, but he added, “I don’t want to create a burden for the city. I want something that will help the city grow.

“This isn’t about money,” he added. “I’m looking for something I enjoy doing.”

Reimer didn’t ask for a decision by the council, or even for feedback. But later in the meeting, Council Matt Hiebert said, “It’ll be a good addition, there’s no doubt about it.”

The council did authorize city engineer Bob Previtera of Reiss & Goodness Engineers, to plat the entire property that runs along the highway between Ash and Adams Street, but with the intent of considering only a small portion of it for development initially.

Faulty devices

The council heard that about 10 percent of 500 vacuum breakers that city workers had installed on residential outdoor facets had resulted in broken pipes at those residences. About half of the city residences had been fitted with the device, which was believed to be required by state law as a way to prevent backflow into the city’s water system.

Councilor Hiebert, a plumber by trade, called the devices “a piece of crap that should have never been put on.”

Dalke said the devices were engineered for warmer climates, and frigid local temperatures had caused some pipes to break, but the supplier had never indicated communicated that information.

“A reputable company would have not allowed (the devices to be used) in Kansas.

She said city attorney Dan Baldwin would be seeking compensation from the company on behalf of the city.

Because of the number of repairs that the city will need to make, the council agreed in principle to contract with professional plumbing services rather than have city staff make the repairs at the residences that need them.

Because of possible liability issues, Councilor Len Coryza noted it was “a critical mistake using city staff” to install the devices in the first place.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n heard from its insurance agent, John Kullman of IMA, that the city premium for 2007 actually be fewer dollars for more coverage. Last year the city paid $52,274 for $9.333 million in coverage; this year the amount would be $48,542 for $9.451 million.

The premium amount may change, though. The mayor suggested that city needs to insure about 142 acres it has acquired in recent months, plus the former AMPI building. She said now that improvement have been made to that building it would be important to insure it.

n accepted a recommendation from Scott Shreve, its energy consultant from EMG, to pursue a contract for electricity that would include the Kansas Power Pool and another supplier once its contract with Westar Energy expires May 31.

n considered exploring the purchase of a new street sweeper after spending some $20,000 to repair the current one. Dalke said the current sweeper is now “totally shot” and should not have been repaired.

Dalke said the company that did the repairs told her recently that it had previously recommended that the old sweeper be traded in because it was not worth fixing.

n agreed to wait to order two new storm sirens after finding out the company that supplied and repairs the city existing sirens had not been consulted for a bid.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
HHS girls win, boys lose at Lyons
Maybe driving up in single-digit temperatures was to blame, but both Hillsboro...
Read More