City has second round of budget talk

Leslie Silverman
Highways and streets were discussed at length at the July 21 Hill City budget hearing. Alderman Jason Gillaspie questioned why the city had not yet developed a prioritized road plan. 
“I don't see any other street repairs or anything listed on here,” He said. “I know there’s the start of a plan but no mention of anything else.”
And while the city is carrying over $30,000 to a street improvement fund, Gillaspie wanted to know how the fund was going to be used.
“We have roughly $300,000 sitting in a street improvement fund that’s been going in there for 10 years, however long it’s been,” he said.
City administrator Brett McMacken said there are roads that are prioritized as far as cracks and chip sealing.
“If there’s a desire to put in new streets we can sure have that conversation. I don’t think that’s a recommendation coming from staff at this time, to put in new paved streets,” McMacken said.
He welcomed the Hill City Council to address this issue if it saw fit.
Gillaspie pushed the issue.
“Not to beat a dead horse, but I’ve heard about it for 10 years,” he said. 
Gillaspie wants to see the city prioritize the list of roads in terms of what roads need to be repaired or paved. McMacken suggested looking at the streets that have not yet been paved and compare that with the urgency of roads that need repair and see what the city can afford to accomplish.
The three roads the city paved this year were tied to Tax Increment Finance money. The 2022 requested budget for the highway and street fund asks for $50,000 to extend the asphalt on Top O’Hill -Smokey Drive. The general government building request of $90,000 more than last year includes a plan to finish a storage building at the shop. The building is not insulated or wired for lighting. It also includes money for two back up generators and new vehicles. The back up generators would give power to city hall and the shop in case of a power outage. The city has charted the lifecycle of each of its vehicles and pieces of machinery.
The parks fund budget request is $114,000 over the 2021 request. This includes money for a sewer line upgrade and park improvement funds.
“The sewer line that runs to Memorial Park is a two-inch line which is not (up to) code,” said public works director Travis Kettner. His concern is that “it won’t keep up” and needs to be fixed. The budget also gives $100,000 for park improvements to the park board to work with once it gets established.
The parks board would oversee the cemetery fund as well. The cemetery’s most immediate need is to straighten out the headstones of the deceased whose families cannot be located. This is a budget request of $35,000.
The water fund budget shows $45,000 for a new fresh water Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. The overall request for the fund is $100,000 more than last year’s amount, which includes extra money for water testing due to a projected increase in population that census numbers indicate.
There was no explanation given as to why the requested amount in salaries and wages for several city funds were markedly less than those requested in 2021.
The library is requesting a budget of $159,027.27. This number contains $20,000 for capital improvements to fix the building’s roof. The shingles were not installed correctly and the sheathing underneath needs to be redone. As of yet, no water leaks have been observed in the building.
Mayor Kathy Skorzewski invited members of the public to contact city hall for any questions regarding the budget.
“That is the appropriate place to get the correct information.” Skorzewski said.
“There’s some incorrect information I’ve heard,” regarding the funding of the community center project, she said. “The cost of that project has been worked into our budget.”

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