Alcohol area debated


Hillsboro City Council discussed the possibility of creating a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) in Hillsboro, reviewed the city’s preliminary tax budget, passed a ban on consumer-grade fireworks in Hillsboro, and approved the purchase of a vacuum truck for the city at last Thursday’s meeting.

Prior to the meeting, the council held a public hearing about the city’s 2023 tax budget. No public comments were made during the hearing.

Hillsboro Auditor Alex Butler briefed the council about the current state of city finances. “I want to point out that you’ll notice in the revenue report the income tax collection – we are just over $3 million currently – which I feel confident that by the end of the year we will exceed what we have projected to collect this year,” he said. “On the other hand, the expenses have been challenging as we anticipated this year.”

Butler cited rising costs for utilities, insurance and fuel as among those impacting the budget. He also said chemicals for the water plant have been part of the budget challenges. “We did anticipate that, but we didn’t know exactly how that would hit so we tried to mitigate that by increasing appropriations,” he said. “We’ll see how things go over the next couple of months, but in October or November we may be having that conversation.”

Butler clarified that the city is not short on funds. He said the city has received a total of $689,279 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). “I’m not expecting any more payments of ARPA dollars coming into the city, so that’s what we’ve got,” he said.

Following Butler’s statements, Hillsboro resident Aaron Brown voiced concerns about a local home in the area during the citizen’s comments portion of the meeting. “I’m here because there is a home and this house if very, very nasty,” said Brown. “This is a really big concern of mine because there is a 12-year-old kid there, and they found drugs, and I’m just bringing this up because I’m a concerned citizen.”

Mayor Justin Harsha used his time during the meeting to thank city employees who put in extra late-night hours to move the stage, get the grass ready, and work on electric issued for the Festival of the Bells in July. “I think it turned out to be a great event,” said Harsha. “I think we’ve found a permanent home for this festival, and I’m really excited about that.”

Harsha also noted the city is making use of its crack sealing machine to prevent potholes on the city’s roads this winter. He said Hillsboro Public Works Superintendent Shawn Adkins played a major role in both projects. “We have a great crew working for the city,” said Harsha.

Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said the city received 11 commercial and 12 residential building permit applications in July during her report to the council.

Abbott said that the project to extend Roberts Lane to connect Fenner Avenue, S.R. 73, Te Mar Way and Fairground Road was ranked first at the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission’s second-round county caucus meeting in July.

Abbot reported that city and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) representatives have had preliminary discussions about a pedestrian safety project funded through a $336,000 grant from ODOT. “The construction is not going to begin, I believe, until 2024, so it will be a little while, but planning will start soon,” she said.

The North West water line replacement project is scheduled to begin Aug, 22, according to Abbott, and she said a new tornado siren is currently being installed.

She said the Hillsboro Police Department recently held a mass casualty incident preparedness training at the Hillsboro City Schools.

Abbott noted that the newly rebuilt McDonald’s in Hillsboro is open for business, and a number of other economic development projects in the city are in progress.

Along with the farmers market held Saturday mornings, Abbott said additional “Movies Under the Stars” events were held Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13 at the West Main Street green space. She said a community cookout will be held Friday, Sept. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the old firehouse on Governor Trimble Place.

Council member Adam Wilkin, chair of the city street and safety committee, discussed a recent meeting concerning the potential application by the city for a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).

The proposal would allow customers within much of the city’s uptown area to consume alcohol purchased at local establishments in the allotted outdoor space.

Members of city council are planning to hold additional meetings and obtain further public input before making recommendations about the proposed area.

Council member Patty Day, chair of the council’s community enhancement committee, said she has not had a response from a representative from Horizon Telecom about a request to set up a Point of Presence site for expanded internet services.

With the absence of city council member Greg Maurer, a vote for an ordinance to ban the use of consumer-grade fireworks in Hillsboro was tied 3-3 among the remaining members. Council president Tom Eichinger voted to pass the ordinance, and it was approved and adopted.

Ordinances to change the zoning classification of a parcel of land and modify the zoning map, to amend several sections of the codified ordinances of the city, and to repeal all previous ordinances regarding the compensation for non-union city employees and establish the schedule of authorized non-union city employees had a second reading at the council meeting and will have a third reading at the next city council meeting.

The council voted unanimously to approve and adopt two related resolutions allowing the city to apply for a residential public infrastructure grant from the Ohio Department of Development and to enter into a contract with DLZ Ohio Inc. for the design of the Beech and Railroad Street reconstruction project. The project will include water, sewer, storm, sidewalk and street reconstruction. The resolutions were approved on their first reading to ensure a timely grant application. The grant is for up to $750,000, and the contract with DLZ Ohio Inc. is for $194,083.

A resolution to establish a fund for holding OneOhio funds by the city was unanimously approved and adopted on its first reading. The fund is necessary for the city to be able to receive money from the state of Ohio from the settlement with national opioid distributors. The money totals $8.6 million statewide, and will be used to combat the opioid epidemic in local communities. Local governments will receive payments over the next 18 years. Butler was unsure of the exact amount of Hillsboro’s first payment, expected to be received in the next few months, but said the payments “will exceed six figures.”

A resolution to transfer city-owned land at 540 Johnson St. and 146 West Beech St. to the Hillsboro Community Improvement Corporation for economic development purposes was slated for a second reading at the next council meeting.

An ordinance to annex an island off of Fenner Avenue into the city of Hillsboro was also scheduled for a second reading at the next council meeting.

A resolution to adopt the city’s proposed 2023 tax budget was unanimously approved.

An emergency resolution to authorize the safety and service director to purchase a new Vacall AJV1215 vacuum truck through the state of Ohio cooperative purchasing program was passed 5-1 after some debate with council member Jason Brown against the purchase.

The total price of the truck and parts was quoted at $496,266. The trade-in value of the city’s current 2015 truck was quoted at $165,000 with the purchase of the proposed truck.

Adkins said the city’s repair time for water main breaks has been cut in half by use of the vacuum trucks. He said without the use of the trucks, “We have to do it the old-fashioned way. We bring out our sump pumps and try to keep up.”

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

Hillsboro Auditor Alex Butler (left) and city council member Mary Stanforth are pictured at last week’s meeting. Auditor Alex Butler (left) and city council member Mary Stanforth are pictured at last week’s meeting. John Hackley | The Times-Gazette
Hillsboro City Council bans fireworks

By John Hackley

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