City works to update codes

Staff writer

Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke told City Council members Tuesday it was time to accept updated municipal codes or those building anything new next year would have to pay a 5 percent increase in insurance rates.

“According to our recent building code enforcement report, we ranked 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best,” Dalke said. “We are way behind because we have not accepted new building code changes since 2006.”

Council member Marlene Fast asked why the city had become lax on accepting building code changes that recur every three years.

“This is why we might have run into trouble with the new Bluejay Skybox at the college, because no one knew what the current building codes were,” Fast said.

City Administrator Larry Paine said it was difficult for the city inspector Ben Steketee to continually “educate” construction managers about new codes.

“We have to use the same codes that large cities like New York do, and sometimes they just don’t make sense for small towns like ours,” he said. “It takes a lot of time for Ben to be the teacher and the bad guy, telling everyone what needs to be changed.”

Dalke said the city had not accepted building code changes for 1990 and there were problems when a builder constructed a house in Carriage Hills without egress windows at that time.

“Those are the kinds of things that happen if we don’t keep up with this,” she said. “From here on out, if anything gets an occupancy permit and we do not have these updated building codes approved, they are going to pay that additional insurance rate. Five percent might not seem like much, but it adds up.”

Paine said nothing was as simple as it seems.

“Our priorities are 1) to protect the public from poor construction procedures, and 2) not to have to be the nasty boys in making a lot of changes for our builders,” he said. “We want to go slowly and see what happens. We do not want to dry up the building process.”

Council member Bob Watson said the council should accept the updated codes, but also make sure to stand behind inspector enforcement.

Fast added that no one wants to find out after-the-fact that the city was not operating under current building codes.

The council did not take any action on the matter.

Golf course contract approval

The council did approve a written contract with Hillsboro Municipal Golf Association to operate the golf course, as per auditor recommendations at the previous meeting.

Mike Padgett, association president, attended the meeting and said his board also approved of the agreement.

“Essentially, this is the same terms we have operated under ever since I’ve been involved (2002),” he said. “We just put them in writing for you.”

Watson asked if there was a balance sheet available for the council but Padgett said since the city owned the facilities and most of the equipment, the only statements he had were income and expense sheets.

“I’ve always provided all the information requested to Jan (Meisinger, city clerk),” Padgett said. “We have nothing to hide here.”

Council member Shelby Dirks asked why city residents paid more than non-city residents to play at the golf course, but Padgett assured him that the golf course operated just like the recreation commission and the aquatic center in providing a single tiered rate for all patrons, regardless of where they live.

“If we increased non-resident fees we might alienate people and lose more money than if we just kept charges the same,” he said.

In other business:

  • Economic Director Clint Seibel presented information on the Hillsboro E-Community program, which oversees grant distribution for entrepreneurs and business recruitment.
  • The council discussed an option to forming a fire district that would involve contracts for fire protection from the city.
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