For several weeks, Hillsboro City Council member Shelby Dirks has questioned the amount of time spent by city street crew members actually working on city streets. At the council meeting Tuesday, he said he just wanted to know why they were not working more on street repair instead of other duties.
“I’d like to see us sit down and make a plan to get a better return on tax dollars paid for street improvement,” Dirks said. “By looking at the logs the department has provided, and plugging in my own numbers, it looks like we are only getting a 34 percent return on our investment. I would like to see more emphasis placed on repairing streets.”
City Administrator Larry Paine was quick to point out that in a small city the size of Hillsboro, it was not possible for the street department to only work on streets, the water department only on water issues, and the electrical department only on electricity. He said he expected crossover in each department in order to keep Hillsboro running efficiently.
“I don’t think we are being negligent,” Paine said. “I definitely would not say the balance of time is being spent on projects useless to the city. Our field crews all work together to improve the city as a whole.”
Dirks also questioned the city’s $160,000 budget item investment in economic development for the past year.
“I just want to know what tangible benefit the city received on that investment,” he said. “I would like to have some information on that at our next council meeting.”
Mayor Delores Dalke also recommended a subject for the next metting, deferring a decision on a city land-lease agreement. Brent Barkman had submitted a cash rent lease agreement with a signing date of June 1, regarding 20 acres of city property south of the city airport and west of the Carriage Hills subdivision. He would pay $100 per year for seven years to assume responsibility for 10 acres of alfalfa and 10 acres of grass hay.
The mayor and council gave no reason for the deferment.
In other business:
- Council members approved a payment plan for Reynolds Inliner of $51,547 with $5,100 being withheld until an insurance suit is settled with property owner Caleb Barkman, whose basement was flooded when a drain was not opened properly by the company when sewer work was done near his home.
- The council approved Dalke’s reappointments of Marlin Janzen and Larry Cole to the Hillsboro Housing Authority.
- Members unanimously approved a block party request from Mike Boese. Boese plans to barricade Main Street from 2nd Street to just past the senior center July 3 for a fireworks show and neighborhood celebration.
- The council scheduled a work session for June 26 to discuss city health insurance options.
The next regular meeting of the city council is July 3.