Short Night For Hillsboro City Council

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Mayor pro tem Katie Duncan chaired a rather short Hillsboro City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 8; most of the discussion dealt with the city's audit. Patton and Company, PC, employee Kyle Putnam lectured the board a bit; all funds were in the red, and she warned no trickle down, bailout funds from the state were on the horizon. Because the town faces declining revenues and increased expenses, she stressed that the council needs a long term financial plan.

"Remember your budget is a guideline, not a Bible," she said, "so don't buy an item just because it's in the budget." was one admonishment. "Business District funds can't provide for everything." Her advice was to plan in advance for sidewalk, water, and sewer infrastructure improvements.

She pinpointed another perceived weakness. "If someone owes the city money, aggressively collect it." She did have words of praise for city treasurer Bonnie Hefley, who prepares the documents needed for the audit. "Bonnie is wonderful," Putnam said, "keep her." The board voted 4-0 to accept the auditors' report.

The vote to pay the September bills (payable in October) was 3-0; voting yes to the checks written for $451,525.00 were Duncan, Michael Murphy, and Don Downs. Voting present was Daniel Robbins. The council approved unanimously spending $7,345 (already budgeted) for a push blade for the Street Department's skidsteer.

Two other items, both dealing with ordinances concerning water lines and connections, were pulled from the agenda.

The commissioners' reports were relatively short. Commissioner Robbins said water line work at Central Park was done so the size of existing pipe could be determined; foul line fencing was also removed so future plans can be prepared. Lake  lot ordinance changes are under discussion. A new, composite railing was installed at Lincoln Plaza before the Harvestfest was held.

Work continues on the pickleball courts -- the first coat of resurface has been applied. The Central Park Imagine Hillsboro Committee has a design and plans for a new look for the park; fund raising began at the Harvest Market.

The "Forest of Terror" at Sherwood Forest Campground is slated for this weekend, Oct. 11 and 12, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The grand opening for Pawsboro 620k9 (the dog park) will be Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. The Street Department repaired a water leak at Pinnacle Point, picked up brush, and installed posts for street signs.

Police and Fire Commissioner Michael Murphy covered a wide range of unsightly if not illegal issues.

The Occupation and Health Safety Act enforcers provided the fire department with a list of changes to be made in headquarters; the department is working through the list. According to Murphy, the Harvestfest went well. Answering a question from Commissioner Downs about derelict houses around town, Murphy said, in reference to one building whose owner is working on demolishment, "We don't have an ugly building ordinance."

If it's painted pink while it's taken down, it's ugly – but ugly is not illegal, and it's also being cleaned up as a site. Murphy also admonished citizens to "Act like a human being," decrying a recent incident in which he heard a lady using vulgarities. Also, he discussed changes to the vacant/derelict house ordinance. Currently, if an owner is sent a notice of violation, he/she has three months to correct the problem or pay a $25 fine; the amount remains the same as many as four extensions. The amendment would make the second fine $50, the third $100, and the fourth $200 to give the ordinance more teeth.

The conversation occurred after Duncan under her Finance Commissioner cap said that city hall is working on the next tax levies.

Also, city intern Patrick Murphy is compiling a list of vacant buildings within city limits. By his count, 107 buildings are vacant; 55 of those still have water service, 47 have no water service, and 8 haven't had a water bill for at least two years. There is a vacant building ordinance, and all ordinance violation notices will be sent out at the same time.

Downs, like Murphy, appreciated the downtown activity on Saturday, Oct. 5; he gave a shout-out to the Imagine Hillsboro organizers, to the Auxiliary Police, and to Brian Carver and Atlas 46 for the Monster-Making/Building contest. Also like Murphy he asked property owners to be responsible, to bag their leaves in paper bags for disposal. "Take care of your property," was his plea.

The next city council meeting is two weeks from this one; they will meet again on Tuesday night, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., in city hall. The public is always welcome.

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