The Hillsboro City Council approved five pieces of legislation, moved two items to a third reading, and moved two others to a second reading during its meeting last Thursday.
Members voted unanimously to approve the city’s 2023 budget with appropriations totaling $16.72 million with $6.57 million set aside for the general fund.
“We hope that you will pass it tonight; otherwise we will be having to operate on a temporary budget which would be difficult,” Hillsboro Auditor Patty Day said prior to the vote. Day recently left her seat on the council to assume the role of auditor.
Jo Osborn was sworn-in Monday to fill Day’s seat on city council.
Council also voted to approve an ordinance ratifying a purchase agreement with the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District. “This is referring back to an agreement from 2019 to finalize the deal with Paint Creek,” said Eichinger. The agreement allowed the Paint Creek to lease the North East Street fire station owned by the city of Hillsboro for about five years with the rent being credited toward an eventual purchase of the facility.
Second readings of two pieces of legislation were heard. The first was a resolution to adopt the 2022 version of the Hillsboro Policy and Procedure Manual that includes changes to the mileage reimbursement rate for city employees. The second was to update an ordinance about residency requirements for city employees.
The first reading of an ordinance to zone an island off of Fenner Avenue that was recently annexed into the city was heard.
A resolution to make additions to the city’s Imagine Hillsboro plan that identifies a more detailed way for the plan to be reviewed twice a year had its first reading. The next related resolution was to establish an Imagine Hillsboro Select Committee to perform the required reviews. Both resolutions were moved to a second reading that will take place at the next council meeting.
Three appropriations measures were unanimously approved. The first involved the need to move funds throughout 2023. “We know that these are expenses that we’re going to need to move, so this just allows us not to have to come back each time we move those funds so we have your approval going into the year knowing that it’s necessary,” said Day.
The second was to use $20,000 to pay off a bond for the city’s firehouse. “I’m asking for $20,000, but it’s actually around $16,000,” said Day. Day said the amount of the request was to ensure there is enough to money to cover interest payments.
The third was an ordinance to make appropriations transfers to cover personnel expenses.
During the communications portion of the meeting, Eichinger spoke about a correspondence from a former planning commission member about the potential for the city and its citizens to save on energy costs through the Electricity Aggregation Program. “There are many cities around here that have done that, and Wilmington is one of them,” said Eichinger. “Perhaps we can look into it as a city so that we can maybe provide some benefit to both ourselves as a city and also to the citizens.”
Eichinger referred the issue to council’s Utilities Committee for review. He said the savings on electricity could be from 20 to 30 percent.
During the mayor’s report to council, Justin Harsha recommended Tim O’Hara, the owner of the local LaRossa’s, and Anne Griffith of the Highland County Auditor’s Office, to serve on the local board of tax review. Both recommendations were approved by the council.
Harsha also took time to recognize Betty Bishop and Buck Wilkin, who both passed away recently, as “two people who spent a lifetime giving back to our city, county and so much more.” Bishop was a longtime mayor of Hillsboro and served as the Greenfield city manager. Wilkin served on the Hillsboro Planning Commission and as president of the Hillsboro School Board. “They both touched so many lives, and we’re all better off for their love of the city of Hillsboro,” said Harsha.
Harsha provided this month’s report for Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott because she was absent from the meeting. He spoke about the state’s Appalachian Community Grant Program provided under the American Rescue Plan.
“This grant opens up $500 million in funding for the Appalachian community for transformative projects that are a catalyst for future development and generational investments in the region,” said Harsha. He said Hillsboro’s projects include the West Main Street greenspace amphitheater and a Rails to Trails program.
Harsha said prominent community members provided 10 letters of support for the city’s grant application with less than 24-hour notice. “The contents of these letters reminded me of why our community is so strong and close-knit,” he said.
Street and Safety Committee Chair Adam Wilkin spoke about a recent committee meeting concerning the application by the city for a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) that allows outdoor alcohol consumption in the city. “It was about details such as boundaries, signage use or designation, hours and operation, public safety, and the plan for sanitation,” said Wilkin. “These items will have to be clarified or taken care of before this committee can recommend bringing the idea of the district to the full council for approval.”
“It is the recommendation of the committee that the city administration move forward with the application process to the state of Ohio,” he added.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.