City of Hillsboro finances are improving and progress continues to be made on a number of projects, officials said at Monday’s city council meeting.
Auditor Alex Butler said July’s income tax numbers reflect what the city hoped they would show. He said city leaders were worried when the numbers at the end of June showed the city was down about 10 percent from the same time last year, but the July numbers brought that figure up.
“To date we’re down about 3 percent, so that is good,” Butler said. “It’s not where you wanna be, but it could be a lot worse.”
In his report to council, mayor Justin Harsha said the city has started to demolish some of the more dangerous structures at the former Gross-Feibel property, and that the city is waiting on an updated quote from Evans Landscaping for the remainder of the demolition.
“We called and talked to Jim Bailey and had Jim Bailey back out to look at the property to give us a better idea of tearing everything down except for the historical structure on the lot,” Harsha said. “As we were walking through, we were noticing that there’s been kids back there playing, and some of those buildings were super dangerous.”
The mayor said the building next to the historic structure was in bad shape and that public works superintendent Shawn Adkins had city crews knock over the most dangerous parts. He said some of the I-beams from the structure could be repurposed for use as part of a bridge on a nature trail at Liberty Park.
“It’s been an eyesore forever, and it’s dangerous down there,” Harsha said of the Gross-Feibel area.
Harsha also said that following the September council meeting, the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District station in Hillsboro that council has been using for recent meetings would no longer be available and that the city is looking to move council chambers to the upper level of the City Building. He said safety and service director Brianne Abbott found some funds that had not been used this year and the hope is to use that money for a new council chambers.
He also said the city received a call recently with the caller stating they could not believe the city had a female serving as safety and service director.
“I wanted to reassure everybody that Bree has far surpassed all my expectations. She’s doing great,” Harsha said. “I’m sure everyone who’s talked to her knows the dedication she’s got and how much work she puts into it.”
Several council members echoed Harsha’s sentiments.
In her report to council, Abbott said plans for a Marriott hotel near the intersection of SR 73 and Harry Sauner Road are moving along despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We finally received some tentative plans for the public works side of things, so we’re starting to see a little bit of movement there. We haven’t received cost estimates yet on infrastructure, but hopefully soon,” Abbott said.
Abbott said that during the past week a Harry Sauner Road reconstruction project got underway, a sewer project was started on Vaughn Road, and a second phase on a West Walnut Street storm sewer project was completed.
A pedestrian bridge project that would link Shaffer and Liberty parks should go out for bid Sept. 8, Abbott said, adding that the city hopes to have the project finished by the end of the year.
In other news from the meeting, Adam Wilkin, chairman of council’s street and safety committee, said the committee met recently primarily to discuss the operation of food trucks in the city.
“The first meeting that street and safety had about food truck and mobile food vendors was primarily focused on listening to feedback from the community,” Wilkin said in a handout provided by the city. “We received a lot of great information — information and ideas that we hope to use to build a better, more inclusive, and mutually beneficial situation for the people of Hillsboro as well as our local food trucks/mobile food vendors.
“The main theme of our second meeting was to bring the information and ideas we received from the first meeting forward for discussion and to narrow them down to possible legislation. To be clear, the ideas discussed are only for food trucks and mobile food vendors…”
In another development, the council approved legislation removing 19 ordinances from the city codes. The legislation passed Monday took effect immediately.
Council also voted to approve a preliminary ordinance for an Ohio Department of Transportation paving project on SR 138. Abbott said paving in the city will take place from Oak Street to High Street sometime next year with the city responsible for 20 percent of the project costs within the city limits.
During a Hillsboro Planning Commission report, Abbott said that the commission heard from Magic Tunnel Car Wash, a new business opening on North High Street, and discussed plans for a new White’s Bakery location in the 100 block of West Main Street.
Mary Remsing, Hillsboro Fair Housing coordinator, gave a short report to council. She delievered council members a handout that said the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.
Remsing said that in 2019 she received eight calls related to fair housing, and that so far this year she has received three calls. She said her role is to get people with a complaint in contact with the proper entity.
If someone has a complaint, she said they should call the Ohio Civil Rights Commission at 1-888-278-7101, U.S. Department of of Housing and Urban Development Fair Housing complaint hotline at 1-800-669-9777, or the Midwest office at 1-800-765-9372.
Jeff Gilliland can be reached at 937-402-2522.