Public Utilities Commissioner Don Downs began a discussion concerning to whom responsibility for the repair of water supply pipes should go; it's a discussion that can have financial repercussions both for the city and property owners within the city. The discussion came at the end of the Hillsboro City Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 23, in city hall.
The discussion began because of an ongoing problem on Anna Street, but it applies to the city as a whole.
According to Downs, a pipe leading to a private residence or business belongs to the property owner, and so does the repair of that pipe. If the owner doesn't hire a plumber to fix the problem between the tap-on and the main (the main is the city's responsibility), the leak can affect the street and/or surrounding properties.
Downs read the applicable city ordinances (Sections 38-3-17 and 38-3-18 in Ordinance No. 1451) to support his position that "The city shall limit its responsibility to maintaining water lines to the water mains and not to the service lines.
The property owner shall be responsible for the service line from the corporate stop on the water main to the water meter as well as the line from the meter into the premises served."
A few property owners seem to feel if the water doesn't pass through their meter, they are not charged for it and thus are reluctant to pay for the repair. That in turn by ordinance allows the city to shut off the water.
According to Downs, the ordinance hasn't been enforced as strictly as it needs to be, but it will be enforced from this point forward.
On more than one occasion, the city has used its equipment and manpower to dig up the broken lines to repair them and then billed the property owner for the costs.
Downs said that's time needed on other projects, and at times the added expense of placing a lien on the property to recover expenses is necessary.
Attorney Kit Hantla and Woodard & Curran representative Tim Ferguson said another issue will be pertinent soon; the legislature may soon pass rules governing even more the type of pipe involved. Now if a lead pipe is uncovered in any project, it must be replaced before it's recovered. New regulations most likely will add galvanized pipe to the list; Hantla said once new laws come down, the ordinance will be revisited to insure compliance. Until then, the ordinances should be followed as written.
Downs and other council members said the enforcement might not be popular, but Hantla said it's important for all citizens to be treated equally, so a "bright line" rule is needed – this side is the city's, that side is the property owners.
Mayor Brian Sullivan said he had talked to former councilmen who explained that when the ordinance was passed, one justification was lack of control over what property owners used material-wise on their property. Councilmen then felt the city shouldn't be responsible over installations it couldn't control.
The rest of the council meeting was rather routine. Nancy Slepicka told of progress on the dog park, now named "Pawsboro." Rules have been written and will soon be codified. Fundraising has provided money for the soon (hopefully) to be constructed fence; the park will have one section for small dogs and another for larger ones, and signage is in progress. Slepicka said the community response has been very positive (the mayor echoed that sentiment). She also said predicting an opening date isn't possible at this time.
Cindy Huber asked for Main Street to be closed from Tilson to Wood Street during the Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 5 for a sidewalk chalk activity. The event is in conjunction with Imagine Hillsboro. Huber asked for help from the auxiliary police; the council agreed to the closure 4-0.
Also approved were the Hillsboro Junior High Dragon Cheerleader back to school 5K scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17, and the Old Settlers Fun Walk/Run. Randy Rieke asked for approval of that during the Public Comment section; the decision (it was approved) fell to Police Chief Randy Leetham because it wasn't on the agenda because of a clerical error. That event will be Saturday, Aug. 3.
The other voice heard during public comment was from Nick Marcolini, who thanked the city for purchasing the man lift now used for facade use on Main Street. "It's much appreciated," the business owner said, "at least four people used it on the same day last week."
Marcolini later asked for and was granted permission to open the doors to The Opera House at 9 a.m. the day of the Old Settlers Car Show (Aug. 4); other businesses selling alcohol will also be open at 9 a.m. that day. Marcolini said that helps attendees have access to restrooms, and it gives those who have vehicles at the show a place to go after set-up.
The only purchase okayed during the meeting was of a used squad car from Irving. It's a XLT Ford Explorer with 108,000 miles on the odometer, but only 20 – 25,000 miles on its rebuilt engine. Chief Leetham said the vehicle is operational and needed because one of the current vehicles has a strong doggie odor (the canine unit). The purchase will be a flex car for Hillsboro as well as in reserve until new hires are ready. Irving will sell the car for $3,000 with a mobile radio needed. That will cost $1,500, but that expense was already in the budget. The motion by Public Safety Commissioner Michael Murphy passed 4-0.
During Commissioner reports Murphy reported that hypodermic needles have been found recently in town. "If you find a needle, don't touch it. Call the police; they have gloves and are trained to protect themselves from infection."
Murphy also thanked James Hertel and family for "...a generous donation for the canine fund." He also noted a lot that came under city control on Anna Street has been cleared and is now for sale.
Finance Commissioner Katie Duncan said a mandated Public Hearing concerning the budget will be at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30; it will be followed by a special board meeting at 7 p.m.
Public Properties Commissioner Daniel Robbins read Street Superintendent Justin Chappelear's list of activities over the past two weeks. A water line to the dog park was installed; a fire hydrant was replaced; and his crew found a water leak on Vandalia Street; the source was a leak in the water line on the homeowner's service line were work items on the list.
The last day at the pool is Sunday. Aug. 11 (School begins that week). Those wishing to renew permits for hunting on city property may do so between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1; that includes duck blinds and archery season for deer.
Dennis Panczenko has begun his job as cohost at the campground. Jim May's crew removed graffiti from the Lincoln Plaza stage, prepared for the Old Tyme Tractor Show, and replaced the often-breaking fiberglass flagpoles on downtown light poles with rigid metal poles. Robbins expressed gratitude for fish attractant structures donated by Mike Lee to be used in Glenn Shoals Lake.
Dirt was hauled and spread at the former beach house area to cover up the sand so grass can be planted as the structure's conversion to cabins progresses. Also addressed were results of vandalism in restrooms and the shower house. In addition, mowing, weed-eating, and clearing of brush continues.
Mayor Sullivan reminded those in attendance of the Aqua Run coming to the lake this Saturday, July 27. He reported much interest in the Church Street Pub building and said the mercantile side of the converted Lynch Building will soon be open. He said that downtown is "...returning little bits at a time."
Interim Community Planner Jonathon Weyer had a busy schedule from which to build his report. A subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee will look at revamping the ball diamond in Central Park. Engineering firms have looked at the Corner Block Building (Sherman's), and though the reports aren't yet in a written form, Weyer said the consensus was the structural integrity of the building is adequate, but environmental concerns (asbestos, for one) exist. He proposes bringing the potential stakeholders of any project to the table together on Aug. 5. He said Fusion wants to expand, perhaps downtown. He mentioned the possibility of recruiting a Technical/Biological Tech firm interested in agricultural testing to town.
A need he perceives for this community is for an Arts Commission, not only for theater production but also for art to beautify the town. He also mentioned an organization called St. Louis Makes and classes a director might offer for local entrepreneurs. Those interested should contact Weyer at city hall.
Finally, he suggested the council deal with issues raised by the legalization of recreational marijuana sooner than later. "It's legal as of January 1," he said. "The town ought to decide soon whether to prohibit sales, have a handle-it-as-it-comes policy, or to set up regulations before the effective date."
The council next meets in regular session on August 6, but a special meeting has been called for next Tuesday, July 30. It will be preceded by a public hearing at 6:45 p.m.