Truck mystery solved, budget discussed

Staff writer

After a routine Hillsboro City Council meeting agenda of budget amendment approvals and resolution adoption on Tuesday, City Administrator Larry Paine shared some interesting news with council members.

“It seems that the city electrical truck stolen last June, along with a significant amount of equipment, finally surfaced last week,” Paine said. “An older fella from Coffeyville had used it to drive his ailing wife to Wichita for medical treatment.”

According to Paine, the elderly man needed a vehicle because his own transportation had broken down. Some nice young men found him alongside the road and offered to let him use their truck so he could get his wife to the hospital. When he tried to contact them about returning the truck, he was unable to locate them.

Paine said the man found a business card in the glove box with a number for Mike Duerksen, Hillsboro city employee. When he called that number, asking for information on title and registration so he could tag the vehicle, Duerksen kindly informed him he was driving a stolen truck.

“The Wichita Police Department continues to work on the case,” Paine said. “The truck will be returned to the insurance company because they paid for it, but I guess that solves the business about where it went.”

When it was found, the Hillsboro city truck no longer had the city logo on the side, and it was tagged with a stolen Sedgwick County tag.

In more mundane business, council members approved budget amendments for 2012, shifting a couple of million dollars in 13 accounts to correctly coincide with actual expenditures for the year.

“No property tax amounts will be changed because of the amendments we make,” Paine said. “These taxes have already been levied, collected, and paid to the city.”

In reference to the airport fund, in which more buying and selling of fuel took place than budget plans allowed for, Paine said it was important to adjust the numbers to avoid negative marks in the city’s annual audit.

“The state is not concerned with what we spend but more with what we take in,” Paine said. “We, however, are concerned about cash and expenditure authority at the same time and have to adjust accordingly.”

Council members approved changes to funds for the airport, municipal court, canine unit, equipment reserve, utility sales, capital improvements, sewer bond, the Community Development Block Grant, Family Aquatics Center, electrical fund, sewer utility, and the city library.

The council scheduled a public hearing on budget amendments for 4 p.m. on Dec. 26 at the city building.

Council members approved resolution 2012-6 to address state congressional discussion of the possible abandonment of tax-free municipal bonds.

“This fiscal cliff amendment is coming to the attention of many cities,” Paine said. “It affects smaller cities more because there are less people to spread out the increase of interest if we lose the tax-free bonds.

Paine said the return on investment for the city remains the same when comparing tax-free and taxable bonds, but customers bear the brunt of increased payments.

“It is a definite financial advantage for the city to use tax-free municipal bonds,” he said. “It saves what we have to charge in rates for utilities.”

By approving the resolution, the council essentially asked the state legislature to not address the municipal bonds issue and to not pass fiscal cliff problems on to small town citizens.

In other business:

  • The council approved a new building permit fee ordinance that raised charges to those similar in the city of Newton. The permit fee schedule now in place is equivalent to half of what International Building Code statutes recommend.
  • Council members approved cereal malt beverage sales licenses for Hillsboro Golf Association, Casey’s, Ampride, Vogt’s IGA, and Alco.
  • Mayor Delores Dalke awarded Randy Jantz a municipal league of services award and gift from the city for 10 years of employment with the city.
  • Members approved an ordinance that raised recycling fees from $1.98 to $2.12. The increase now includes a fuel surcharge that was not formerly part of the fee schedule.

 

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