Hillsboro Makes Plans To Hire Summer Help

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Hillsboro’s four person city council (Mayor pro tem/Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan, Utility Commissioner Don Downs, Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy, and Streets, Public Properties and Parks Commissioner Daniel Robbins) decided to hire lifeguards for the city pool for 2021-perhaps-at their meeting Tuesday evening, Feb. 9, in city hall.

The council agreed to advertise for lifeguards with the understanding that those who are offered jobs will not be hired if current pandemic restrictions are still in place through May. The jobs are contingent upon a continued downward trend in affected people by Memorial Day.

Murphy, during commissioner reports, had Police Chief Randy Leetham detail circumstances around a police pursuit/stop that occurred in front of the junior high complex on Rountree Street recently. The pursuit, which also involved Litchfield Police, the Sheriff’s Department, and Illinois State Police, began in Litchfield when a car stolen in Colorado was spotted. The only damage was to the Hillsboro patrol car, which had minor bumps and scrapes. The driver of the car was arrested.

Murphy also complimented the Street Department for their efficient treatment of city streets during the most recent ice and snow events; he asked residents to continue parking in their driveways rather than on the streets when bad weather is in the forecast.

Two other concerns were mentioned by Murphy. Zoning and Code Enforcement official Mike Lee has begun his duties; his report said he’d visually inspected 13 homes from the sidewalk and spoke with three of the 13 property owners about violations. One abatement notice was issued, and one extension of an existing abatement notice was granted. Also, a building permit for a deck was issued and two demolition permits were issued. The other concern was a warning for dog walkers who don’t clean up after their pooches when walking them on city sidewalks. Murphy said many businesses now have surveillance cameras; if a dog is caught on camera defecating on a sidewalk and the owner walks away, he/she can expect an officer bringing a ticket to the violator’s front door. Murphy said the goal is to gain compliance “...in the most pleasant way possible.”

In a related item, Duncan reminded dog owners that a leash law does exist (a dog cannot leave its owner’s property unless it’s on a leash). She said problems have occurred, and if owners don’t heed warnings, tickets will be issued.

Downs also thanked the Street Department for its timely work, and he asked for the public’s help on two fronts. Sewage lift stations around town have been experiencing problems; each is equipped with a flashing warning light, and he asks that if someone sees a light flashing, he/she call city dispatch so repairs can be made before a small problem becomes a big one.

He also asked users of the sewer not to flush feminine hygiene products or disposable wipes down their toilets. “I know wipes’ packaging claims they are flushable, but they aren’t. They plug up the lift station pumps. They cost thousands of dollars to repair.”

Robbins reported the Street Department salted and plowed the streets as needed, installed a fire hydrant at Hiltop and Fairgrounds, and swept excess rocks from the streets that were oiled and chipped last summer.

The Parks Department continued its work on the Central Park building housing the restrooms. The heat in all public buildings has to be monitored during the cold weather, and winter maintenance on equipment used in the summer continues.

The council agreed to pay bills amounting to $342,375.67 to 63 different vendors. Also in financial news John Vozzetti of Bernardi Securities spoke via phone to the council about refinancing the bonds that the city offered in 2007 to finance construction of the water plant. The interest rate then was 4%.

In 2012, at the suggestion of Vozzetti’s company, the bonds were refinanced with the interest reduced to 3.25%, which saved Hillsboro between $250,000 and $300,000 in interest payments. Now the city can refinance once again with the interest rate perhaps as low as 2%. To do so will not mean more money for other projects, but it will save considerable interest payments until the bonds are paid off (mature) in 2036 (fiscal year 2037). The council agreed to refinance unanimously.

The council voted to accept a proposal from Brooks & Associates, Inc., for an indicator and installation at the water plant for a cost not to exceed $8,300. The indicator went out about the time of a lightning strike, but investigation said the two weren’t related, just coincidental. Tim Ferguson via phone said the indicator was twelve years old and worn out; the situation needed to be addressed for monitoring and reporting purposes.

The assignment of a lakeshore lease from the living trust of Harold Gene and Juanita Markos to Christian Flocrchinger was approved 4-0, contingent upon an extended lease to be drawn by City Attorney Kit Hantla by the closing date, Friday, Feb. 12. (Lending institutions now demand extensions of leases; attorneys feel those requests need to be made in a timely fashion.)

In another real estate matter, Alverson Surveying, Inc. was hired to survey Lots 40 through 46 and Lots 107 through 113 in the Rountree Addition of the city. The survey was necessitated by the conversion of the trailer park in East Hillsboro into public housing; state law says if a municipality doesn’t have a designated area in which to locate mobile homes, then they can’t be kept off any property. Once the above lots are surveyed, they will be designated as the only sites for those who want to move in manufactured off-site homes. It is zoned R-2. The surveying will cost $1,500.

Tom Compagni requested payment of $2,000 for reimbursement for landscaping at his business (Paris Frozen Foods). The work has been completed. The grant was awarded before work began; now it is pay-up time.

In a last discussion before the council went to closed session at 8:04 p.m., Robbins and Parks Superintendent Jim May asked for input on possible problem areas with lake lot revisions currently under consideration. One issue involves those who lease duck blind space generally aren’t those who lease lake lots. Though it hasn’t been a problem often in the past, it could become one, so those reviewing the lease agreements wanted direction. Another was whether storage space should be allowed on the lots. No strong recommendations were forthcoming.

The closed session lasted until 8:34; only one of the two printed agenda items was acted upon. Real estate parcel 11-36-400-008 (a now vacant lot on City Lake Road upon which a cabin once stood) will be advertised for sale by sealed bid.

After the commissioner and mayor reports began the meeting, city planner Jonathan Weyer addressed the council by Zoom. The highlights included five new businesses either have launched or will be by the end of March; the Future Land Use Planning Committee met Tuesday morning (Feb. 9) and divided into subcommittees. Weyer has met with representatives of BIO/STL to discuss the Eagle Zinc Property.

The council next meets on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. in city hall.

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