An ordinance proposing pay raises for city employees was delayed and a request for the city to temporarily fund repairs to a culvert at a shopping plaza was denied at Monday’s Hillsboro City Council meeting.
The ordinance for pay raises will have its second reading at the next council meeting following a 3-2 vote in favor of waiving the three-reading rule for the ordinance Monday. However, council president Tom Eichinger said the three votes in favor of waiving the three-reading rule were not enough for a quorum, so no further action was taken after the first reading, although there was a lengthy discussion.
Council members Mary Stanforth, Adam Wilkin and Greg Maurer voted in favor of waiving the three-reading rule, while council members Patty Day and Claudia Klein voted against it.
Council members Mark Middleton and Ann Morris were absent and were excused from the meeting.
Day said she had concerns with the ordinance because in some cases the raises amount to 15-percent to 30-percent increases, and because council did not follow its own protocol when the issue was discussed at a previous council finance committee meeting. She also said it was not announced that the finance committee would consider the pay ordinance at that meeting.
She said council’s bylaws were violated because there was not a joint meeting of the finance committee and employee relations committee to consider the ordinance.
“I feel like there was a large piece of council missing from a lot of decisions that have come up tonight that are on our emergency vote agenda,” she said.
The next finance committee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 17. Stanforth said the employee relations committee should be part of that meeting. Shortly after that meeting, council president Tom Eichinger said, council could hold a special meeting to consider the pay ordinance before council’s next regular meeting in December.
In another development, council denied a request from Raja Nawaz, owner of the Hillsboro Plaza property, for the city to pay the cost of repairing the culvert up front, then assessing the cost to his taxes over a period of up to 15 years.
The culvert was washed out during a June storm, causing the main entrance to the plaza to be blocked since that time due to safety issues.
Safety and service director Brianne Abbott said estimates to repair the culvert and driveway were between $70,000 and $100,000, while public works superintendent Shaw Adkins said the cost could be more.
Council eventually voted 5-0 to deny the request by Nawaz.
During his report to council, mayor Justin Harsha said the city is considering turning the former Highland Enterprise and Union Stockyard properties it now owns on West Main Street into a green space that could include an amphitheater and playground for kids. He said the city would like to get rid of a chain-link fence fronting the properties, install a new fencing and clean up the sidewalks.
The mayor said the city has been bringing in dredged material from a creek to place on the property and that it hopes to add topsoil from an ongoing project on top of that.
On a different matter, council unanimously adopted an ordinance to transfer function of the Hillsboro Design Review Board, which was reported by Klein to be down to three members, to the Hillsboro Planning Commission.
The ordinance says the Design Review Board, “Was established to provide guidance to the City Administration in matters involving the historic uptown area of the City, and now, the City has taken a greater interest in developmental planning in all areas of the City and the integration of the uptown historic district into the development of the City to serve commerce and business; therefore, the functions of the Design Review Board should be placed with the Hillsboro Planning Commission to promote greater efficiency in this effort.”
In her report to council, Abbott said Highland County Economic Development Director Julie Bolender is working with developers on the Marriott Hotel project to make sure all the documents for funding are submitted to the state. She said the city extended its tax increment funding (TIF) funds for the remainder of the year and will re-evaluate those funds at the beginning of the new year.
She also said the Goodwill store on Harry Sauner Road is open, and that other new businesses including Dunham Sports, The Porch, Mimi’s Kitchen, Marshall’s and Fenner Ridge Apartments are all in different stages of construction.
Abbott said the former Dallas Music location on North West Street is scheduled for demolition next Monday.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.