Pictured (l-r) are Hillsboro City Council member Don Storer; city law director Randalyn Worley; council members Patty Day, Dan Baucher, Tom Eichinger and Greg Maurer; council clerk Whitney Seitz; and council member Jason Brown. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured (l-r) are Hillsboro City Council member Don Storer; city law director Randalyn Worley; council members Patty Day, Dan Baucher, Tom Eichinger and Greg Maurer; council clerk Whitney Seitz; and council member Jason Brown. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Hillsboro City Council approved a new pay scale ordinance for city employees and heard updates on local events and a new emergency notification service during their Thursday, Sept. 15 meeting.

The ordinance to repeal all previous ordinances regarding the compensation for nonunion city employees, and to establish the schedule of authorized non-union city employees, passed by a 6-0 vote.

In December, council voted to approve a much-discussed proposed pay ordinance for non-union city employees, following discussions that spanned a combined six-plus hours in open session since late October. The committees eventually agreed to work throughout 2022 to develop a pay ordinance that took everyone’s concerns into consideration, and they met several times this year before presenting the revised legislation in July.

The updated ordinance approved Thursday was originally introduced as an emergency, but after discussion among council members, it was decided to give the legislation the full three readings.

This year’s pay ordinance includes pay ranges for positions, as had een proposed in the fall and winter of 2021. That includes the safety and service director position going from a flat $75,000 to a $75,000-$90,000 range.

Several positions changed from an hourly wage scale to a salary range, including changing the police chief position to a range of $65,000 to $75,000, plus an additional $20,600 per year for systems administration; the public works superintendent to a range of $75,000-$90,000; the police captain to a range of $55,000-$65,000; the tax commissioner and utility office manager positions to a range of $50,000-$60,000; and the water plant superintendent and wastewater superintendent positions to a range of $65,000-$70,000.

As previously reported, council already voted in July to increase the city auditor’s salary through an emergency ordinance. As noted in the ordinance, the city auditor’s salary had not been increased since 2008. The ordinance set the position’s annual salary at $57,500, up from its current rate of $45,000 per year.

An emergency ordinance “granting applicable elected representative approval in connection with the issuance of economic development facility revenue bonds of the county of Montgomery, Ohio and approving contract with other governmental entities” was also passed Thursday.

According to a letter from bond counsel Marc Kamer of Dinsmore & Shohl, Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley is pursuing “tax-exempt bond financing” in Montgomery County not to exceed $7 million. As Goodwill has a location in Hillsboro — and would use the bond proceeds for improvements at that store and other locations — they are legally required to secure permission from Hillsboro City Council, although the city has no responsibility to pay for the bonds.

“This is some material we received that is looking to create a bond that will provide monies for the Goodwill operation, which includes the one here in Hillsboro,” council president Tom Eichinger said. “It requires the city of Hillsboro to agree with that.

“There is no commitment, from a money point of view or anything else along those lines, for the city of Hillsboro. They strictly need our authority to say yes so they can move forward and get the loans.”

Eichinger then asked city law director Randalyn Worley to confirm that his assessment was correct, and she said it was.

“It's important to understand that our participation in the financing does not commit city resources,” Worley said. “That is laid out in the letter from bond counsel from Dinsmore.”

Council did not have any questions or comments, voting 6-0 to suspend the three-reading rule and to approve and adopt the legislation.

Also during the passage of ordinances and resolutions, council voted 6-0 to approve:

• An ordinance to change the zoning classification of a certain parcel and modify the zoning map, rezoning 850 West Main Street from Business C to Business and Residential D.

• An ordinance amending sections 155.072, 155.092 and 155.166 of the city’s codified ordinances. According to the ordinance, the three sections in question deal with permitted uses in the zoning districts; development standards for each zoning district; and definitions for the zoning code.

• Three separate ordinances making supplemental appropriations.

The first was described by city auditor Alex Butler as “cleanup legislation” from the city’s Revolving Loan Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) fund into the Community Development Block Grant fund in the amount of $73,841.88.

“There's CDBG and then UDAG funds, and those are monies that have come to the city over a period of multiple years, multiple administrations,” Butler said. “Those two sources of money should be separated into two separate funds. There's a revolving loan fund for UDAG money, then there is a CDBG fund designated just for that. However, for a number of years, the funds and the monies have been in the same fund.”

The second appropriations ordinance was to issue $600 in refunds for a softball tournament planned by the city, which was eventually canceled.

The last appropriations ordinance was a $130,000 appropriation designated as “Land Improvements” to finish the Moberly Branch Trail Head parking.

“That's the pedestrian bridge that connects Shaffer and Liberty parks,” Butler said. “This increase in appropriations will make available the funding to finish the paving on both sides of the bridge. The project has been ongoing for a number of years now.”

Safety and service director Brianne Abbott added that the reason for the legislation Thursday is because the original project came in over bid last year, “so we rebid it, and it didn’t get completed and didn’t get put into the new budget.”

In response to a question from Eichinger, Butler confirmed that the city does have “the money to appropriate this.”

The agenda included three other pieces of legislation on which council did not vote Thursday.

Council heard the first reading of an ordinance to authorize the disposition of unneeded municipal personal property, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 721.15.

“This ordinance is necessary to dispose of a couple of pieces of equipment we no longer have in use — a skid steer and a dump truck,” Abbott said.

In response to a question from  Mary Stanforth, Abbott clarified that “dispose of” means selling the equipment through sealed bids.

Council also heard the second reading of a resolution transferring parcels 25-26-001-054.00 and 25-54-001-015.00 to the Community Improvement Corporation; and an ordinance approving the annexation of parcel 23-10-000-250.00.

In other business, the following reports were presented at Thursday night’s meeting:

• Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha recapped recent and upcoming events during his report to council.

As previously reported, the city hosted a community cookout Sept. 2 at the old firehouse on Governor Trimble Place. Harsha said that event was a success.

“We had a lot of the community come in to enjoy some ood food and laughs,” Harsha said. “Some s were able to come up and help, and a lot of the city employees, so it was a really good turnout.”

The city’s “Movies Under the Stars” series at the green space on West Main Street is continuing this fall with a new feature, as the city will be showing “Hotel Transylvania” on Beggars’ Night, Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m.

“The kids after trick or treating can come down and enjoy a somewhat scary movie,” Harsha said.

Also coming up is the Jeepers Creepers event, formerly hosted by the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association, on Friday, Oct. 7 from 5-8 p.m. in the uptown district.

Harsha said that due to insurance issues, the city has agreed to take on that event and possibly other activities traditionally organized by HUBA.

“There were some questions that arose about the City of Hillsboro supplying the insurance for nonprofits,” Harsha said. “The insurance agency that we have our insurance through said we are not allowed to supply the insurance to nonprofits. So we presented that to HUBA, and HUBA decided to pass that the event over this season to the city of Hillsboro, and I think with the possibility of maybe the Christmas parade and the Christmas tree lighting.”

Harsha added that the city doesn’t “want to see those events go away.”

• In lieu of a traditional safety and service director’s report, Abbott introduced Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director David Bushelman, who spoke about the county’s new Hyper-Reach alert system.

According to a press release from Bushelman in August, Hyper-Reach is a free emergency alert mobile app, with notifications to include “alerts about weather and environmental hazards, criminal activity and missing persons.”

“Hyper-Reach is a state-of-the-art mass emergency notification system designed specifically for public safety,” the press release said. “The new emergency alert system will provide rapid notification of hazardous and urgent situations using a mix of telephone calls, text and email messages, and even TTY/TDD service for the hearing impaired.

“The system sends thousands of these messages to geographically targeted households in seconds, and can simultaneously deliver them to an even broader audience via social media, as well as sending broadcast messages to most current mobile telephones (made since 2011) in an affected area by providing access to FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.”

One of the benefits of Hyper-Reach, Bushelman told council, is the “geographically targeted households” component. It can be customized for specific areas, so residents get the alerts that are most applicable to them.

“What's really neat about the program, especially for the city of Hillsboro, is we can draw a map in a certain area — whether it be a one-mile radius, two-mile radius, whatever — and only those people in that alert area will get the alerts,” Bushelman said. “I think it's a very good tool. I want to see it being used, but then I also don't want to bombard with a lot of frivolous stuff.

“I think that's where the mapping will come in handy, especially like for the city of Hillsboro. We can dial it down so just the city of Hillsboro, those people will get those alerts, and then nobody else in the county will.”

Council member Greg Maurer asked if the app is able to give users alerts for other areas, in the event they are out of town and there is an emergency.

“It will go off to the address that you have entered in the system,” Bushelman said, adding that he has entered multiple addresses across the county for his own alerts.

To sign up for this free service, county residents can enroll either by calling or texting “Alert” to (937) 500-0648 or by going to the website http://hyper-reach.com/ohhighlandsignup.html, according to Bushelman.

Bushelman also told the city representatives that the Highland County EMA will begin working on their “five-year review of our county mitigation plan” next year.

“Hillsboro usually sits in on that, as does Greenfield and all the other villages,” Bushelman. “I’m just trying to move my office forward and be prepared for whatever we can. I've been working with [Hillsboro Police] Chief [Eric] Daniels and the other police chiefs and the sheriff's office and some fire departments on active aggressor training because that's what the world is leading us toward.”

After his presentation, Bushelman distributed copies of brochures about the Hyper-Reach program to everyone in attendance at the meeting.

• In his report, Butler spoke about several upcoming projects as the 2022 calendar year winds down, including completing the city’s audit and making budget plans for 2023.

“Our audit should be happening between now and our next council meeting,” Butler said. “It's typically finished by this time of year, but a couple things factor into when that is scheduled, and not all of that is within our control.

“I did speak with them late last week, and we're looking at an early October time frame for them to come, but the audit report won’t be complete or released until probably the very end of the year.”

As noted by committee chair Stanforth, the finance committee will be meeting Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. to begin 2023 budget discussions. Butler said that he and Abbott will also be starting their work on the budget in the near future.

“Bree and I are going to take a look at that closer next week,” Butler said. “The ball is rolling with budget preparations for next year. I'm looking forward to starting to wind things down for 2022 and wind things up for 2023.”

• Under new business at the end of the meeting, Adkins briefly shared a couple updates with council.

After over a year of discussion, Adkins said a contract has been signed to repair the culvert in front of a North High Street shopping center.

As previously reported, crews from the City of Hillsboro responded to the Hillsboro Plaza shopping center during the overnight hours of June 18-19, 2021 after a culvert pipe was washed out of a ditch during a storm, causing a large sinkhole and damage to the driveway. The culvert and its needed repairs were discussed at multiple council meetings last year, including through legislation passed in August and a vote to reject the property owner’s proposal for the city to cover upfront the cost of funding repairs in November.

“Work will start end of September, first of October,” Adkins told council Thursday. “It’s going to be a cast in place product. The lead time for the box culverts will be six to eight months.”

In other news, Adkins said the city’s newly installed tornado sirens are “up and running.”

Also during Thursday’s meeting:

• Community Enhancement Committee chair Patty Day reported that her committee is meeting jointly with the Street and Safety committee Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at the city building to discuss the proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).

• Eichinger placed a request from the Hillsboro Swim Organization in the finance committee for consideration at their Oct. 3 meeting.

“In the past, the city has occasionally reimbursed them for the first water fill for the pool, but it needs to be done in an orderly way from a legal point of view,” Eichinger said. “They made a formal request this year for that to be available to them in 2023.

“I’d like to put that in the finance committee, since you're working on budgets, and that would be something that would have to be in a budget. We'd also need some legislation to authorize that expenditure.”

• At the beginning of the meeting, council voted 6-0 to excuse the absence of council member Adam Wilkin, who was unable to attend due to illness.