Water and sewer rates to go up

Developer plans housing project

Staff writer

Hillsboro residents can expect to see increases in their water and sewer bills.

City council approved ordinances raising water rates to $29 base and $4.92 per 1,000 gallons from $28 base and $4.82 per 1,000 gallons, and sewer rates to $31.68 base and $3.98 per 1,000 gallons from $25.45 base and $2.68 per 1,000 gallons.

Neither adjustment allows for the creation of cash reserves, city administrator, Larry Paine said. However, it will keep the city from losing money on utilities, which it otherwise would do.

Originally Paine recommended increasing the price per 1,000 gallons of sewer to be around $6, but found the formula he used was incorrect.

“It is hard to get an exact estimate on how much money sewer and water utilities will raise each year because they are based largely on consumption and several other factors,” Paine said. “If we have another year of drought then our usage could go down. How much we can pump out of the reservoir could go down.”

The average city resident uses 70 gallons of water per day, below the national average of 100 gallons per day, Paine said.

Council members discussed potential ways to save money in both departments.

Hillsboro spends around $57,000 each year to treat the blue-green algae, water director Morgan Marler said.

“We aren’t mandated to treat things like taste, odor, iron, and manganese that are in the water, but we do so that customers will be happy when they turn on the tap,” she said.

“We can try and cut down on that but I think if you do you will all start getting calls,” Paine said.

Another cost saving option was to decrease chemical treatment of sewer.

“Since we have started better treating, we have had significantly less complaints about smell from residents,” Paine said.

Council member Byron McCarty jokingly recommended spraying the lagoons with a big bottle of Febreze.

Mark Cox and Vintage Construction of Wichita are in the process of developing plans for a six duplex housing project that would target families and elderly.

The project would create affordable rental housing within city limits.

“It has been a long time since anyone has approached the city with a housing project,” mayor Delores Dalke said. “I’m pretty excited.”

The council approved a resolution pledging support of the project. No location has been chosen for the project.

Another housing project is also being discussed, but the developer does not wish to be named at this time, Paine said.

In other business:

  • A pay increase of 1.5 percent was approved for all city employees. A 1.5 percent merit pay was also approved. Paine will evaluate employees on their employment anniversary and decide if they qualify for a merit pay raise.
  • The city was awarded a grant to seal, coat, and re-mark the airport runway. No timeline for the work has been set.
  • A cereal malt beverage license was approved for Heartland Foods on condition of the finalization of the purchase of Vogt’s Hometown Market.
  • A lease agreement for Hillsboro Community Hospital building was approved. The hospital will pay $6,200 a month for the first 24 months, and $6,510 after that.
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