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Council discusses Alco building

Staff writer

What will become of the Alco building? No one knows yet, but the Hillsboro city council on Tuesday discussed possibilities.

Alco is closing all of its 198 stores in 28 states, and each store is conducting a liquidation sale of all merchandise.

Council members Shelby Dirks and Bob Watson want to see a retailer move into the building in order to generate tax revenue to the city.

Council member Byron McCarty said he favors remodeling the building to use as a fire department.

“You’d have to build it taller,” city administrator Larry Paine said.

“You can probably get a truck in there,” McCarty said.

Mayor Delores Dalke, who also hopes another retailer moves in, said she was inside Alco recently and was surprised to discover that many of the customers believe the city of Hillsboro owns the building.

“People were going around in the store saying how the city owns the building, and what it was going to do to the city of Hillsboro,” Dalke said. “It’s owned by someone out of Plano, Texas. And they pay taxes on it every year.”

In fact, Dalke said the Texas company pays about $20,000 a year in property taxes, and the county is depreciating that building every year.

“Every year the taxes go down because that’s one building the county recognizes as having a depreciated value each year, not a lot but it actually goes down rather than up,” Dalke said. “It’s kind of unusual to see taxes going that way instead of up.”

City officials did not know if the Texas company is connected to Alco Discount Stores.

The council increased residents’ sanitation rate by 14 cents, and decided to investigate curbside recycling.

The small hike is a yearly event for Hillsboro, which contracts with McPherson Area Waste Utility to haul the city’s recyclables away.

Residents bring items to the city’s recycling center beneath the small water tower west of The Lumberyard. There’s a bin for cardboard and another bin for everything else. Workers with McPherson Area Waste Utility sort the materials and haul them away to Salina Landfill, costing the city $2.26 per sanitation account, said city administrator Larry Paine. The previous rate was $2.12.

“I’d like to see us do curbside pickup, if that’s feasible at all,” said council member Bob Watson.

Paine will work with a consultant to develop recycling possibilities for the council to consider, including having a private company perform the collection.

McCarty said the sad state of the city’s trash truck must also be addressed.

“The trash truck seems to be in the shop more than it is on the road,” McCarty said.

Paine said a new trash truck would cost $200,000. Dalke said the report would also cover equipment and personnel needs for the city under a new recycling program.

In other council news:

  • Paine updated the council regarding a code violation issue involving resident Kevin Tidwell, who has been ordered to install a front door on his house. Tidwell had agreed to install the door this week under the supervision of housing inspector Ben Steketee, but Tidwell instead installed the door over the weekend without Steketee present, Paine said. A public hearing is set to discuss the future of Tidwell’s property, as well as three other properties in town, all of which city officials describe as having serious code violations.
  • The council also discussed the possibility of raising utility rates for residents and businesses. No action was taken. Paine wants to build cash reserves in each of the utility accounts, including electric, water, sewer and trash. Council member David Loewen said raising utility rates hurt poorer people because they don’t have as efficient homes and equipment. Paine wants council members to identify how much cash reserve they believe is best for the city and how long it would take to raise that revenue. 

Last modified Dec. 3, 2014

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