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Dirks raises questions at Hillsboro city meeting

Staff writer

Hillsboro City Council member Shelby Dirks raised questions about department spending practices and city worker time-schedules Tuesday at the council’s regular meeting.

Prior to the approval of city vouchers for the month Dirks asked if departments were comparing prices and shopping locally for supplies and services as mandated.

“I just wondered if we are giving our suppliers in town a chance to order some of these things, take for instance this line item about a new faucet for the library sink,” Dirks said. “We paid Flaming’s $182.74 for one sink. Is that the best deal we could get? What about our people in town?”

City Administrator Larry Paine said that a specific kind of faucet had been requested for the library and in-town providers were unable to order.

“We did check with Tom (Hillsboro Hardware) and John (The Lumberyard) first,” he said.

Dirks also questioned if price comparison had been used when considering the purchase of toolboxes for a city fire truck.

“We have this line item of $550 for tool boxes for Brush Truck No. 6,” he said. “I know there are several people in town that can do this. Did anyone compare prices, or do we just go to whomever?”

Paine said issues other than just cost had to be considered with items such as the fire truck toolboxes.

“Timeliness was an important consideration with us on this one,” he said.

Dirks and other council members seemed satisfied with Paine’s explanations of spending practices and approved the vouchers as presented.

Paine also provided explanation for Dirks’ later questions regarding city street workers’ scheduling.

“I would like to know how many city street workers we are paying and what do they do every day,” Dirks said. “What percentage of their time is spent actually working on streets and what else are they doing? Who schedules their time?”

Paine said Street Supervisor Dale Dalke was responsible for managing city street workers’ schedules but, like most small towns, workers in Hillsboro were expected to overlap into other departments and often did more than their specific job title.

“We use every department to cross-over to other departments if needed,” Paine said. “We can’t really field a full team in any department for big jobs and might use street workers in the water department or other places.”

Dirks said he would like to see the city get back to a system of logging schedules on a daily basis, particularly in the street department, so he could see where work was being done and by whom.

“I think what he is getting at is that we would like to see more patching, repair, maintenance, and actual work done on our city streets as opposed to seeing them on the Schaeffler house grounds,” council member Byron McCarty said.

Paine indicated he would follow up on the subject with street supervisor Dalke.

In other business:

  • Mayor Delores Dalke presented and recommended for approval a proposal for a Public Service Week proclamation. The council approved her recommendation that would draw attention to the work of public employees.
  • City Attorney Dan Baldwin updated council members on the progress of legal wrangling currently occurring to get the red brick building on Main Street torn down. The owner made a first appearance Monday and a judge outlined the process, stating he could make a 60-day order for cleanup at the owner’s expense if the building were condemned after inspection.
  • Paine updated the council on the arrival of zebra mussels at the water plant this spring. A recent e-mail from City Water Department Director Morgan Marler said several small live mussels had been caught in the baskets and several empty shells were seen late last week. Paine said a blow-off would take place at 1:30 p.m. today to clear out filters.
  • Paine noted that the first step of creating online access for Hillsboro patrons to pay their utility bills online was underway. Other payment options would continue to be available, but he hoped this progress would eventually open up to include other city services online as well.

The next meeting of the Hillsboro City Council is scheduled for May 15.

Last modified May 3, 2012

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