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Hillsboro targets derelict property

Staff writer

Hillsboro City Council members made it clear Tuesday that they are tired of a property owner paying no heed to the city’s code enforcement officer.

Enforcement officer Doug Dick has been working with Zachary Haskins, who owns 510 S. Washington St., to clean away a large pile of construction debris.

Dick has sent multiple notices and spoken with Haskins but to no avail, city administrator Matt Stiles said.

“It’s not gotten any better, in fact it’s gotten progressively worse,” Stiles told council members.

Mayor Lou Thurston asked whether Stiles thought Haskins was reacting negatively to enforcement efforts.

Stiles said he didn’t know.

Stiles estimated it would cost $1,600 to clean up the lumber unless it takes more than a two-man crew working four hours.

Council members voted to give Haskins 10 days to get it cleaned up or the city would do the job and send him the bill.

He has until the 10 days expire to request a hearing.

Council members also voted Tuesday to apply to be one of several cities where Kansas Power Pool will construct solar arrays.

If chosen, Hillsboro’s array would span seven acres and produce one megawatt of energy.

The energy produced would be shared with other cities in KPP.

Stiles proposed the city offer property west of the city’s wastewater lagoons. The land lies 70% in a flood plain.

“This piece of property is effectively not in use for anything,” Stiles said.

Council members also were told Monday that the intersection of Ash St. and Grand Ave. would get needed repairs to a section of the street and sidewalk so damaged it no longer complies with Americans with Disability Act standards.

Stiles said the city’s street department thought that the amount of time and traffic control required to complete the work made it better to hire a contractor for the job.

Council members voted to have the work done by Hett Construction, which bid $22,569.76 for street and $6,700 for sidewalk work.

Vogts-Parga bid $41,220 for street repair and $8,465 for sidewalk work.

Money will come from the city’s special highway fund, Stiles said.

Council members took a first look at, but took no action on, increasing water and sewer rates to keep up with the cost of water processing.

Stiles told council members water rates needed to be increased 53 cents per 1,000 gallons to keep up with costs in the next year.

The current cost per 1,000 gallons is $6.05, meaning a 9% increase to $6.58 per 1,000 gallons would be needed to keep up.

Hillsboro’s base rate for households and businesses is $29 per month, including 1,000 gallons.

Changes in the cost of water production also would require an increase of 53 cents per 1,000 gallons for Peabody. That increase would move Peabody to $3.21 per 1,000 gallons for the first 50 million gallons.

After 50 million gallons sent to the city, Peabody’s cost would increase to $3.70 per gallon.

Hillsboro’s contract with Peabody requires advance notification, so any change would take effect later than a change for Hillsboro.

Sewer rates have not been adjusted since 2014, Stiles said. Inflation since then is just over 30%. Several maintenance projects have been done.

“The most evident are the lining projects that totaled $434,141 in 2023,” Stiles said.

Hillsboro’s sewer rate is a base rate of $31.68 per month plus $3.98 per 1,000 gallons.

Driggers said Stiles’ proposed rate changes were well thought-out.

Thurston noted that water had become an important topic throughout the state.

“Water is something that is just going to be in the forefront,” Thurston said. “I’d hate to go backward to groundwater.”

Last modified Nov. 8, 2023

 

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