Hillsboro moves forward on important projects in 2010
New people in key positions and progress on important projects highlighted the year 2010 for the Hillsboro town council.
In February, Mayor Richard Workman resigned and, the following month, council appointed recorder Anne Walker to serve out Workman's term, which will expire in June. In May, council appointed Gail Hyer to serve out Walker's term as recorder.
In May, fire chief Charlie Wilfong told council that inoperative fire hydrants posed a danger to town residents. The mayor and council investigated and approved repairs.
In July, council began discussions on the need for town office space. Council considered using space in the Hillsboro Elementary School building or construction of a new building in or out of town. A trailer on a town-owned lot outside of Hillsboro limits, that had been planned for use as an office, was reportedly in poor condition.
During the July meeting, council heard an update from town attorney Eugene Simmons on the status of the town boundary determination. Simmons said his investigation through courthouse records was nearly complete and that he had discovered no documentation for a purported 1910 boundary change. Several residents living outside the 1910 boundary told council they did not want to be annexed into town limits. Walker responded that the town was not annexing territory, merely determining its correct, legal boundaries.
On July 15, the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) issued an order in favor of Hillsboro and White Sulphur Springs, which had appealed new phosphorus water discharge limits imposed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The EQB said DEP had not used "sound science" when establishing the limits. Experts had informed council that upgrades to bring the sewage plant into compliance with the new standards would be very expensive.
In August, Simmons reported that his boundary investigation was complete and he had found no documentation making the purported 1910 boundary change official. With the lack of proper documentation for the 1910 change, an 1886 town boundary would remain in effect.
During its August meeting, Walker and treasurer Sandy Simmons informed council that the sewer account was losing more than $7,000 every year, making a rate increase necessary.
In September, council voted to hire a surveyor to plot the 1886 boundary, if the cost was less than $5,000.
In October, council decided to advertise for bids for labor and materials for a town office building. Walker reported she had located two lots for sale in town, each costing $10,000.
In November, council hired SCS Surveyors, of Hinton, to perform the town boundary survey, at a cost of $4,000. Council formed a committee, consisting of Hyer and councilmembers John Hill and Sandy Gladwell to review town ordinances and develop a recommendation for council action.
During a special meeting in November, council voted 4-2 to purchase a lot for the town office building, approximately one-tenth of an acre, for $10,000. Hyer and councilmember Sandy Gladwell voted against the purchase, opining that the price was too high for such a small lot. Council unanimously approved purchase of materials and labor for the office building, at a total cost of $26,600, not including an estimated $1,800 for a concrete slab.
Council voted 5-0 to authorize Walker and Simmons to continue work on a draft ordinance to implement a sewage rate increase. Councilmember James Johnson abstained. The proposed increase would increase the base sewage rate by approximately $1.52 every year for five consecutive years.
Council considered a project to recondition the interior of the town water tank, at an estimated cost of $61,000. Council agreed to investigate and consider various funding options for the project.