Animated discussion took place during a work session of the Hillsboro City Council Tuesday, when members aired opinions about the sharing of skilled services between city and county government entities.
“This all started with a phone call I got from county commissioner Dan Holub,” City Administrator Larry Paine said. “He requested the services of Ben (Steketee, city building inspector) to inspect mobile homes and rental properties at the county lake.”
Paine said he was open to the idea of sharing skilled services between the city and county, as long as work was done under an intergovernmental agreement. He outlined his own concerns, before opening up the floor for discussion.
“First, I don’t think inspections would be required that frequently … there are not that many units out there,” he said. “Second, we need to make sure liability issues are pushed toward the entity requesting the service — the county commission — and third, we would need to set an inspection fee to cover all of Ben’s costs to send him over to do this thing.”
Paine also said he thought it a good idea to help other governmental agencies out and to share skills and services that one group might not have, with another.
“It’s good to be able to scratch someone else’s back now and then, because you don’t know when you will need them to scratch yours,” he said.
Council members were quick to disagree with Paine’s assessment of the situation.
“I have no problem with trailers being inspected out there, because from a safety standpoint, it is a good idea,” council member Byron McCarty said. “But I don’t think it is a good idea at all for the City of Hillsboro to get involved with what is going on out there at the lake. It would be better for them to hire someone from out of town to do inspections, someone that has no connections to this group or that.”
Council member Shelby Dirks echoed McCarty’s sentiments and said he did not think Hillsboro city taxpayers would be in favor of such an agreement at all.
“We have our own inspections to take care of here,” he said. “Why would we want our guy to go out there and get involved with that? Outside inspectors can very easily be hired from elsewhere.”
Council member Marlene Fast said the people of Hillsboro were trying very hard to work together with people from Marion, and this seemed a disaster in the making for problems.
“This is poison,” she said. “We send our guy over there to be the bad guy on these inspections, and all it takes is one person to be upset with Ben, and Hillsboro takes the fall. It is too easy to blame the inspector for problems, and we would be setting Ben up for the fall.”
Mayor Delores Dalke mentioned she was very surprised to read in a recent paper that Steketee had already been involved with inspecting the Florence motel for the county commission.
“I don’t have a problem with him going over and doing the inspection,” she said. “But I do have a problem with the way his work was used politically, for them to try to purchase the building. Don’t any other towns in Marion County have their own inspectors?”
Council member Bob Watson said since there seemed to be some unrest over the situation of rental properties and trailer inspections at the lake, he would prefer city services not be shared.
“I predicted how you all would feel about this,” Paine said. “But we needed to discuss it, I needed to get some feedback, and now we have done that.”
In other business:
- The council approved five board appointments from the mayor for the Convention Visitors Bureau. They included Brenda Coryea, Kathy Rector, Francis Walls, Sue Wadkins, and Lola Unruh.
- The council adopted Charter Ordinance 17 to increase municipal court costs from $60 to $80 per charge levied by Municipal Judge Brad Jantz. The ordinance will go into effect sometime after April 23, 2012.
- Paine publically reaffirmed information indicating that Mayor Dalke received a letter from the governor awarding the city of Hillsboro a $400,000 grant from City Development Block Grant funds. Money is to be used to pay for street repairs and construction on Birch and Cedar streets, Paine said.
- Dalke announced a public hospital board meeting, 6 p.m., Feb. 21, at the Hillsboro High School gymnasium. Hospital officials will update the community on financial status at that time. Dalke encouraged all council members to attend.
- The next council meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 21.