Council to consider costs of additional vacation benefits

Staff reporter

In an effort to give back lost vacation time to city employees, Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine informed Hillsboro City Council March 18 that doing so could cost the city thousands of dollars.

Councilman Byron McCarty asked the council to consider an additional five days for city employees who have been with the city for 10 years or more. A few years ago, the council had reduced vacation time for long-term employees and he wanted to see that reinstated. At that time, long-term employees lost eight days of paid time off.

Councilman Bob Watson asked how the city benefit compare with other cities and the county? Mayor Delores Dalke wondered how the benefits compared with other companies in the area.

"It used to be that benefits were all an employee had," McCarty said, but acknowledged that city employees are being paid a more comparable wage but benefits remain important.

Paine said he thought the benefits probably were inline with other entities.

"Adding vacation days is a budget buster," he said.

Paine told the council that the city's auditors would see it as a liability issue and at some point cities will be required to have cash available to cover vacation time for all employees.

Auditors continue to express concerns to government entities regarding the cost to cities, counties, school districts, and other tax-based entities, if employees had to be compensated for vacation and sick leave.

Paine suggested the council could look at the cost at budget time but it probably would be worth a couple of mills. One mill is about $14,600.

The council instructed Paine to research the topic and report to the council. Councilman Bob Watson said it was important to be fair to the employees and be inline with other cities.

In other business:

— The sewer cleaning company that previously had provided annual maintenance to the city is increasing its prices.

Mayer Specialty Services, LLC, previously had charged 44 cents per linear foot. This contract, which would be for the next three years, would spread out a 12-cent per linear foot increase during the next three years with a fee of 48 cents in 2008, 52 cents in 2009, and 56 cents in 2010.

Dalke commented that since the city went to the annual maintenance program, there have been fewer if not all but eliminated sewer back-up problems.

The council agreed with the mayor and approved the continued maintenance program with the company.

— A public hearing will be at 4 p.m. April 15 to review and approve a new district for the city's neighborhood revitalization program that rebates a portion of property tax payment for improvements to the property.

A complete list of owners' names, addresses, and property values are being gathered and will be presented to the council.

— The council approved a bid for $6,000 from Glasco and Supreme Floor Company for improvements at the visitor's center. A portion of the improvement costs are provided by a grant with the city being required to provide a matching portion. Capital improvement funds will be used for the project.

— Paine will obtain an estimate to repair the roof of the former AMPI building. He commented that the natural gas lines in the building are now to code.

— An inspection report from Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the city's water plant was reviewed. It was noted that KDHE recommended that water plant employees participate in a valve exercise program.

Dalke said she would like to see a schedule of operations posted at the water plant.

It was noted that the city's small water tower had not been inspected since 2000. Paine said it would be difficult to have it inspected because of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) concerns. If the city is to continue using it, Paine said it may become cost-prohibitive to maintain.

— City officials are reviewing design plans for Hillsboro Business Park.

— A map will be developed to indicate the flow of storm water.

— Dalke declared April as Fair Housing Month for the City of Hillsboro. The declaration was necessary, Dalke said, for the city to apply for certain grants.

— Paine reported that Tabor College marketing leadership students are reviewing a list of prospective retail businesses provided by Buxton consulting firm. The students will make recommendations within the next two to three weeks to the council and a top-10 list will be developed.

— A class A private club liquor license was renewed for Hillsboro American Legion.

— The next regular council meeting was changed from Tuesday 1 to Thursday at 4 p.m. because two members of the council will not be able to attend a meeting Tuesday.

— The council had a work session following the meeting to discuss utility rates.