House draws fire from council
Derelict home receives criticism from Hillsboro officials
Kevin Bartel wasn’t happy when he came to the Hillsboro city council meeting Tuesday, but he felt better when he left.
Bartel told council members that neighbors are tired of seeing the poor condition of a house at the corner of Cedar and Grand Sts. owned by Dick and Carla Hein.
“It’s been sitting in the same condition for nine years,” Bartel said.
Hein has had plenty of opportunity to improve the house, but has not, Bartel said.
Bartel said as far as he can tell by looking from the street, the inside of the house has been gutted to the walls.
Council members questioned city attorney Josh Boehm whether he and building inspector Ben Steketee have looked at the house.
Boehm said the house has been discussed since late spring and he talked to the owner. No improvement was done, so he was sent a letter.
“Most of the back of the house has no siding,” Boehm said.
“That’s what we have to look at,” Bartel said. “There’s open crawl space all around the house and my wife and I have noticed cats, skunks, and various critters going under there for shelter.”
Boehm agreed that animals could easily get under the house.
Boehm said he’s sent a letter to a local financial institution with a mortgage lien on the property to ask if they are interested in hiring a contractor to do needed repairs.
“We give the mortgage holder 10 days to respond,” Boehm said. “They have until Saturday.”
Boehm said needed work is more than a cleanup and the cost of repairs would be about the same as the value of the house.
The county appraiser’s site lists the value of the house as $34,010.
“The better route would be to tear it down,” Boehm said.
Bartel gave two thumbs-up when he heard Boehm’s words.
Mayor Lou Thurston asked Boehm to give a status update at the council’s Oct. 16 meeting.
In other matters, council members voted to pay three years’ worth of delinquent taxes on property formerly used as Hillsboro Community Hospital.
When Hillsboro Community Hospital vacated its old hospital building, responsibility for payment of property taxes shifted to the city, and there was confusion as to who was responsible for what at that time, city administrator Larry Paine said.
The city is still in the process of dividing the building, which houses Salem Home on the west end.
Council members voted to pay the $1,957 property tax due and work on getting compensation for the expense later.