Subdivision policy heats up city meeting

Staff writer

City Administrator Larry Paine told Hillsboro City Council members Monday that balancing risk is a major component of his job and for that reason, they should consider raising the amount of security requested from developers in the city.

“We have on the books a resolution from 1998 that sets a level of security for developers of special assessment districts, like Carriage Hills, at 35 percent,” Paine said. “In my opinion that is not enough and 50 percent would be more appropriate.”

Mayor Delores Dalke said the city offered different specials agreements in regards to different developments in town. Sometimes the city finances infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer, electric and streets through special assessments, sometimes they do not. She was not happy with changing security standards midstream, or considering changes before more information was available.

“Nobody knows what we are looking at as far as the city’s responsibility, in any of the subdivisions coming up,” Dalke said. “We need to know if city specials will cover water, electricity, sewer, utilities, or whatever, before we can go changing things.”

Paine said it should be the city’s policy to not install utilities; rather it should be a developer’s risk to absorb those costs. However, the city should be ready to invest in infrastructure for the benefit of the entire community.

“We have a lot of empty lots that are not selling as it is,” Dalke said. “If we go raising the security, it will affect the prices. Do we want the city to grow or just sit here with all these empty lots?”

Council member Shelby Dirks asked why the city would want to be involved with any development, considering the losses incurred when plans did not progress as expected.

“If we can get housing moving, then the risk goes away,” Paine said. “But the bottom line is that we need to have an updated resolution in place that protects the city.”

Council member Bob Watson said if the goal was to protect the city, then why stop at raising security to 50 percent, it should be 100 percent and let banks and developers assume all financial responsibility for new building.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Watson said. “If we raise it too high, we won’t get any development.”

Paine said his purpose for bringing the issue to the table was for discussion, though he felt a decision was needed in the near future. The council did not take action and planned more discussion for future meetings.

Council members did approve a request presented by Economic Development Director Clint Seibel to establish the city as a mechanism for transfer of funds from Hillsboro Community Foundation to Hillsboro Ventures Inc. The sole purpose of the process is to aid business startups and expansions.

“The accountability for the whole transfer is on the foundation,” Seibel said. “The city is only being a channel to help facilitate donations and fund transfers.”

Council members approved a one-year Bobcat lease with White Star Equipment, financed through First Bank in Sterling.

“This is about the fifth or sixth year we have done this and it has always been a good deal for the city,” Paine said. “The deal is we get to use a new Bobcat about 250 for a year, and then we turn it back in and get a new one.”

Council approved the lease payment of $3,900, budgeted from the equipment reserve fund.

In other business:

  • Council members approved the addition of Roger Ashley to the Hillsboro Fire Department. Two firefighters recently resigned and Fire Chief Ben Steketee was asked to provide more information regarding an additional replacement.
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