Hillsboro Council Approves Repairs

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Approving needed repairs occupied two of the seven action-needed agenda slots when the Hillsboro City Council sat down for their Tuesday, July 27, meeting at city hall.

According to Streets’ Superintendent Justin Chappelear, the city backhoe needs a new oil cooler. The council unanimously approved spending a not-to-exceed amount of $4,000 for the necessary parts; the labor will be done in-house. The air conditioner also isn’t functioning well, but Chappelear said that repair bill wouldn’t need council approval.

In a would-be-related matter, the council revisited a decision about the spending ordinance resolution amended at the last meeting. A department head can spend up to $500 without council approval; if the amount to be spent is between $500 and $1,000, the department head can proceed if the commissioner in charge of his department signs off on the expense. A discussion questioned whether the amendment passed setting those amounts required the notification of the commissioner; the consensus was  that was the intent. If the bill will exceed $1,000 (the backhoe repairs is a good example), approval has to come from the full council. Since there was no change to the wording of the ordinance, no vote was necessary.

The other needed repair is to the generator at the raw water pumping station at Glenn Shoals Lake. Woodward&Curran’s Tim Ferguson reported a gasket was leaking. He said the parts should be cheap but the labor wouldn’t be because the engine has to be taken apart; the estimate approved by the council was $6,276.67.

Utility concerns dominated the rest of the 70-minute meeting. The council agreed to allow Ameren/Aecom to discharge treated ground water into the sewer system. It’s the first step to rectifying the coal oil situation behind the old ice plant on Seward Street; Ameren was ordered years ago to do the clean up. Water will be pumped from the site into a holding tank where it will be filtered, tested for contaminants, treated, and tested again before admission to the sewer system. Ferguson said the Illinois Environmental Protective Agency will have to approve and perhaps monitor the process which Ameren wants to begin within two weeks.

Once the council approved the concept, they had to agree to negotiate a fee to provide the service to the companies involved. Ferguson said the fee should be reasonable, but not exorbitant. Permission to negotiate was given. City Attorney Kit Hantla said a written agreement that is actionable (containing consequences if the agreement is broken) is essential.

E&G Construction will clean out the small pond behind the tennis courts and Field #4 at the Sports Complex; it’s a process that needs to be done every ten years. Called a decant pond, it collects the runoff from the tiled diamonds.

The council also approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reimbursement for work done (saving the back wall) to a building at 213 South Main Street. The payment was to Sheldon & Sons, LLC.

For a change, the only public comment offered at the meeting was a “thank you” rather than a complaint. Chappelear thanked the council for purchasing the hydro-vac machine at their last meeting; work done on Rountree Street to the sewer systems, “...wouldn’t have been possible without it.”

Mayor Don Downs mentioned the value of the machine in his mayor’s report as well. The intersection at Rountree and Summer streets had experienced sewer problems since improvements were made last summer. The street department was able to locate an obstruction in the main under the street using the new machine; the main had unknowingly been pierced by drilling for an Ameren gas line. Ameren was to be in town yesterday, July 28, to help with remediation.

Downs also thanked the Street Department for street sweeping Main Street in preparation for Old Settlers. He said that can only be done twice a year because of potential damage to the thin topping on the street.

He, Utilities Commissioner Kendra Wright, city planner Jonathan Weyer,  and Chamber of Commerce representative Kaitlyn Fath represented Hillsboro at the county-sponsored ARPA Roundtable at the extension service on Tuesday, July 20. He also reported that the Aqua Run and the pickleball tournament were successful as he thanked the organizers of those events.

Parks and Public Properties Commissioner Daniel Robbins said his crew cleared brush from around and helped demolish a derelict property house at 617 Lakeview Drive and removed the wooden steps at the Plaza in readiness for new, concrete steps in addition to the routine summer work schedule.

The Street Department helped with the intersection work at Summer and Rountree and continued curb and gutter jobs as time allowed.

Public Safety Commissioner Mike Murphy reported that the owner of the Lakeview property, Calvin Truman, is a company, not an individual, and attempts are underway to contact it.  The demolition was the 48th or 49th uninhabitable structure the city has taken down. He thanked in advance the personnel of the police, fire and auxiliary police departments for their work during Old Settlers.

Murphy also said the auxiliary force needs recruits and asked citizens to stop lighting fireworks now that the Fourth has passed.

Police Chief Randy Leetham reminded citizens of the Old Settlers schedule: Saturday, July 31 are the Fun Run (a.m.) and Little Miss, Little Mister, and Junior Miss contests on the stage in the evening. That means partial road closures as needed.

The car show will cause street closures on Sunday Aug. 1, from 4 a.m. until the band clears. The carnival and concessionaires will be on Main Street Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, so streets will close at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday morning, Aug. 6. The city has asked for traffic control help from the Illinois State Police, the county’s sheriff’s Dept., Litchfield Police and Taylor Springs Police.

Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan reminded the group of a Public Hearing concerning the budget set for 8 a.m. on Friday (tomorrow), July 30; another special meeting will follow at 8:15 a.m. The budget will be voted upon then, with approval of a 5-K Fun Run/Walk to benefit the HJHS cheerleading squad and an employment status change for Frank Kenney also on the agenda.

Utilities Commissioner Wright said that though the lake water is a bit off-color before treatment because of recent rains and heat, the plant operators have the PH readings in a safe zone. She reported that installation of new water meters has been delayed since early May because the meters are on back order. In further bad news, she said the price of chlorine is up 25 percent.

Disposable items which are not disposable by flushing are still a persistent pump-destroying problem. The location of the problem houses has been narrowed to seven; those seven can expect letters and perhaps personal visits to discuss the issue. Mayor Downs said the problems with bills arriving to the water/sewer customers after the due date (the 15th of every month) might lessen because those bills are no longer sent from Hillsboro to St. Louis before a return trip to Hillsboro, but he stressed the customer is liable for the bill and late payment penalty no matter when the bill arrives. Wright said the city is working on a more modern approach to billing.

The council meets twice in special session this Friday,July 30, at 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. in city hall.

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