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Hillsboro’s solar array closer to reality

Staff writer

A field of solar panels in Hillsboro came closer to reality Tuesday when city council members voted to grant a utility easement to Kansas Power Pool.

KPP hopes to build solar panel arrays in nine cities — including Hillsboro and Marion — using a forgivable loan from Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Powering Affordable Clean Energy program.

If built in Hillsboro, the array would be on seven acres west of the city wastewater facility and produce one megawatt of electricity.

While waiting to see whether the forgivable loan is approved, KPP is doing feasibility studies on potential locations.

Credit card fees

On another matter Tuesday, council members discussed, but made no decision on, passing along credit card processing fees, absorbed by the city since 2005.

The city has absorbed credit card fees since it started taking credit cards in 2005.

Since more people are using credit cards, the city is absorbing an increasing amount of money.

City administrator Matt Stiles said a study of how much money credit card fees cost the city over the last two years showed the fees cost the city $31,005.37 in 2022 and $34,176.76 in 2023.

Council members discussed raising utility rates to offset credit card costs or charging a convenience fee, which government entities are allowed to do. Private businesses are not under state law.

“There are two paths forward,” Stiles told council members. “We could keep everything the same and continue to pay the processing fees. No changes are required with that option.

“If the council wanted to move toward passing those charges on, then we would explore what that would take. We’d also review all the processing options to find the lowest cost for customers. An educational effort would be needed to inform our customers about the change. We’d set a date to move to the convenience fee and publicize that change.”

Council members will discuss credit card fees again at their Feb. 20 meeting.

Dilapidated house

A dilapidated house at 306 W. Grand Ave. will become a rental house after council members accepted a $7,802 bid from Gary McCloud. McCloud has said he will restore the house to meet city code.

In other matters, council members:

  • Approved spending up to $60,000 for work on a golf course clubhouse to make it comply with Americans with Disability Act requirements. The project also would repair retention and foundation walls and replace railing and seating. The golf association will pay $20,000 of the cost.
  • Voted to purchase 12 5 kilovolt transformers from Midwest Electric Transformer Service at a cost not to exceed $126,000.
  • Voted to spend $10,625 to buy and install five desktop and two laptop computers.

Last modified Feb. 8, 2024

 

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