Hillsboro Council Keeps Close Eye On Expenses

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Mayor pro tem Katie Duncan gaveled Hillsboro’s city council meeting to order at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, June 9; Mayor Brian Sullivan wasn’t present, but all other council members were.

So were two warnings about city finances. Duncan presented bills from May totaling $333,152.35; six months remain before the end of the fiscal year, and city clerk Cory Davidson said that amount needed to be shaved by $33,000 for each of those months to stay within budget constraints. The council voted 4-0 to pay the bills as presented, but Duncan cautioned her fellow council persons to watch expenses carefully as she reflected on the 2021 budget preparations during her commissioner’s report.

As she looks forward, she said expenses for next year could outpace income by $100,000 without considering anticipated expenses for the older lake’s spillway project, the Seward Street bridge project, and the city’s obligation to pay 1/3 of the mower cost for the sports complex. 

Those expenses could come from the Capital Improvement Fund rather than the General Fund, but that would leave the Capital Improvement Fund in sad shape. Too, she is still waiting on the Fire Department’s paperwork. 

Also, a large payment is due the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) this year. Her advice to the department commissioners and superintendents, “If you don’t really need it, don’t ask to buy it.”

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy said the testing date for a replacement of Ordinance and Zoning Compliance Officer Gary Satterlee is to be Saturday, July 11. (Officer Satterlee is to retire in December). Newly certified patrolman Clay Murzinski is now at work, and the city expects to place a lien on property on Tremont Street that a city employee has mowed because the owner refused to do the mowing. Fire hydrant testing will begin soon; Woodard & Curran may do most of that as part of an ongoing study. Too, treatment may result in a smell of chlorine in the water over the next two months, but it will be safe to drink.

Parks and Public Properties Commissioner Daniel Robbins said that crew had been mowing, weed eating, preparing the restaurant at the South Marina for its anticipated opening, and installing a swinging door at the city hall counter. The Central Park pickleball courts have been lined and painted as the new nets were installed, and drainage work has begun in that park.

The Street Department did concrete work (80 feet of sidewalk on Park Street, a new storm drain box at the corner of Wood and Broad, half of the approach to the parking lot off Broad Street, and new storm drains on East Wood at Central Park); cleaned a storm drain on N. Welch; moved a water line on Summer Street; and began grading alleys around town.

Utilities Commissioner Downs suggested that Imagine Hillsboro volunteers could have been used to do some of the concrete work Robbins discussed on Park and mentioned that he still had a priorities list of sidewalks and curbing that need work.

Two hundred new water meters have been installed including those at the new Housing Authority residences in East Hillsboro. Too, water customers will receive letters soon regarding water quality. These form letters should not be a cause for concern.

Community planner Jonathan Weyer said Atlas 46’ newest program, “Rebuild America,” will launch this coming Monday, June 15. Details will be in The Journal-News; involved will be a second shift in their building on Berry Street plus an option for those who prefer to work at home. The Bank of Hillsboro and First Community Bank will introduce a program by which potential workers can buy their own machines to use. According to Weyer, Atlas 46 plans to have 75 employees by the end of the year, more by the end of 2021.

Weyer said local businesses “...seem to have survived the current COVID crisis rather well.” Twenty-six have applied for help from the city’s plan to aid those who need it the most; 24 of them are in the business district.

Matt Sands and Emily Moroney thanked the council for letting them use Lincoln Plaza for a “Black Lives Matter” rally on Sunday, June 7. They thanked the police for their presence and support and those who attended for embracing and celebrating diversity.

Also in the Public Comment section of the agenda, Downs asked why flags in town were still at half-mast. Police Chief Randy Leetham said it was Governor Pritzker’s mandate that flags in the state remain at half-mast until the pandemic is over.

Besides paying the bills, only two other action items were on the agenda. Both (Robbins moved that the city hire a concrete contractor to do at least the handicapped-accessible ramps for MFT this summer; Murphy moved a 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe Utility vehicle be declared surplus property and sold to the highest bidder) passed unanimously.

The council next meets on Tuesday, June 24, at 7 p.m. in city hall.

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