Pictured, from left, are Hillsboro City Council members Ann Morris, Claudia Klein, Patty Day, Tom Eichinger (partially obscured) and Mark Middleton. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Pictured, from left, are Hillsboro City Council members Ann Morris, Claudia Klein, Patty Day, Tom Eichinger (partially obscured) and Mark Middleton. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Hillsboro City Council approved seven ordinances and resolutions Tuesday, Oct. 12, including authorizing a resolution for the installation of car charging stations in the city that will be fully funded through a grant.

Council unanimously approved the “resolution to authorize and direct the safety and service director to purchase car charging stations with reimbursement upon completion from a grant and to declare the contract to be a matter of urgent necessity and emergency” after suspension of the three-reading rule.

According to the resolution, “the city has the opportunity to purchase two electric car charging stations from ABM Electrical Power Solutions, LLC (ABM) for $181,275, complete, and has secured a grant for reimbursement for this cost.” That includes $150,000 for two fast-charging stations as well as a warranty for the additional $31,275, Hillsboro mayor Justin Harsha said.

“This is an opportunity that Lauren [Walker, economic development assistant] brought to our attention,” Harsha told council. “It’s a grant through AEP for charging stations.

“There’s a little bit of urgency here because the project has to be done by January 4th for AEP, and for them to do the project, they have eight to 12 weeks to install.”

The mayor added that AEP will reimburse the $150,000 for the two stations, but the city is required to “keep these up and running for four years.” He presented an option for “a five-year extended warranty for $31,000,” including “parts, labor and on-site repair,” or “taking the chance” on having to fix any potential problems during that time frame without the warranty.

“AEP wishes us to keep these up and running for an extended period of time,” Harsha said. “I don’t know a whole lot about these machines, but there’s a lot of parts to them.

“There’s a lot of technology involved. It could be you have a major problem with one of them and a warranty comes back to be a great deal.”

Council member Ann Morris said she was “surprised it’s not included,” speaking of the warranty option. Another council member, Patty Day, said she was unsure of what type of possible maintenance would be required on the machines or what they could “expect to go wrong.”

“It’s kind of like all electronic devices — it might work for the five years, it might work six months,” public works superintendent Shawn Adkins said.

Day said “it’s really a gamble.” Council member Greg Maurer pointed out that the warranty accounted for a small percentage of the overall project cost.

Day also said that she contacted safety and service director Brianne Abbott “and talked about this when I saw the cost” of the proposal, as Day said she had been in the committee that discussed charging stations in 2019.

As previously reported, committee chair Adam Wilkin reported in December 2019 that the street and safety committee met to discuss a suggestion for the city to install charging stations for electric vehicles. After hearing a presentation on “costs, installation, services, locations and long-term support for the charging stations,” as well as discussing possible placement, Wilkin said the committee was in favor of installing such stations in town.

In February 2020, Wilkin told council that Abbott would be ““taking over” the electric vehicle charging station plans from that point on.

“I support having them,” Day told council Tuesday. “I do believe it’s a good idea to bring people to our town.

“But it’s like three times higher than what they talked to use about in 2019 — in November 2019.”

Adkins pointed out that these stations are fast-charging stations, which were not discussed at the committee’s meetings in 2019, and that “AEP is giving you the better chargers at $150,000.”

“I mean, it’s $31,000 for a $150,000 grant,” Adkins said.

Council member Mark Middleton said he felt “it’s money well spent.”

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get a couple chargers totally paid for,” Harsha said.

Day asked if the city “could handle” the $31,000 cost “by the end of the year,” which city auditor Alex Butler said they could.

Council president Tom Eichinger asked council to first determine whether they wanted to agree to the cost with the warranty; then whether or not to suspend the three-reading rule; and finally whether to pass the resolution as an emergency. In three subsequent, separate motions, council voted to accept the $181,275 resolution.

Also approved by a 6-0 vote was a related resolution to increase appropriations to the Land and Buildings Equipment fund by $181,275 to front the money for the project.

• • •

• Council also considered a resolution to authorize the safety and service director to enter into a contract with DLZ Ohio, Inc., the successor company for Stantec Consulting Services Inc., for the design and engineering of infrastructure improvements.

The resolution reflects both the change in name for Stantec as well as increasing appropriations for various infrastructure improvements, including:

— Increasing the engineering for Springlake Avenue improvements to include contract administration and construction observation in the amount of $34,000 (design and engineering originally approved in Resolution 20-08);

— Increasing the engineering for Phase III storm sewer improvements to include contract administration and construction observation in the amount of $409,600 (design and engineering originally approved in Resolution 20-04); and

— Adding a new contract for design and engineering of North West Street water system improvements in the amount of $158,700.

Adkins told council that the cost estimates for the Springlake improvements and the Phase III storm sewer improvements have both increased, largely due to the pandemic and associated rising costs.

“So these were previously approved for the lower amounts, and for Stantec, which is now DLZ,” Eichinger said. “This resolution both identifies the name change and the increase in the appropriations.”

Adkins asked council to consider suspending the three-reading rule “so we can move forward” on the projects.

“Springlake’s already begun, obviously,” he said. “The North West Street one, we’re trying to get it in before they pave North West Street so they don’t tear up a brand-new street. We’re trying to sell the Phase III storm sewer project so we can go ahead and get started also, because we have another paving project on 138 that we’re trying to get storm sewer, curb and gutters put in so we don’t tear up another street.”

Morris asked if the city had a “contract” at the time of the original resolutions being passed or if it was “just an estimate.”

“When they first do it, they do a cost estimate,” Adkins said. “Since this COVID thing has hit, everything’s been 30-percent above what it has been.

“We went off the cost estimate. That’s the only thing we can really go off of until the final cost comes in.”

Maurer asked if the revised prices “will be locked in.”

“I’m hoping so,” Adkins said. “There’s no guarantee on the price until they actually come in when we sell the project.”

Council voted 6-0 to suspend the three-reading rule and to approve and adopt the resolution.

• In another infrastructure item, council approved Final Resolution 2020-14 for a project that involves “resurfacing West South Street S.R. 138 between South Elm Street and South High Street, including pavement markings, lying within the city of Hillsboro.”

The original resolution was passed Aug. 10, 2020 for the proposed project with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“Everything is ready,” Adkins said. “We just have to get the OK to move forward. It’s scheduled for 2022 paving, and again, we’re working with ODOT to try to get the storm sewer in so we don’t tear up a new street.”

In other approvals:

• Council voted 6-0 to retroactively authorize the auditor to create a new fund for the purposes of depositing and expending monies received as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), designated as the 120 ARPA Fund.

Butler told council that after the city received their first ARPA payment, he “decided it would be better” for the money to have its own separate fund.

“The problem was when we close out one month and go to the next, it’s kind of like I’m asking for forgiveness instead of permission,” Butler said. “I went ahead and created the fund so it would be reflected on the books in the same month the money was received instead of carrying it in the actual bank but not in our accounting system.

“I consulted with the auditors, and they said that’s fine but to retroactively seek that approval.”

• Council voted 6-0 to approve a resolution amending city policy to reflect the Juneteenth federal holiday, following its third reading. Harsha and Eichinger said at the August council meeting that city employees are allowed to “pick one additional day [off] they can use this year for that holiday,” due to the timing of the federal order establishing the holiday. Next year, it will be officially recognized by the city, according to this resolution.

• An ordinance to establish procedures for destruction of records within the city was also passed by a 6-0 vote after its third reading. Council clerk Kimberly Newman said in August that this legislation was based on a recommendation from the city’s audit last year.

• Council also heard the second reading of an ordinance accepting the dedication of Fenner Avenue. There was no further discussion or vote.

• Council voted 6-0 to excuse the absences of Abbott and Wilkin.

Tuesday night’s meeting also included several administrative and committee reports.

• A possible road extension, a new police vehicle and a property owner’s request regarding a culvert failure were among the proposals presented by Harsha. For more on the mayor’s report, see the story at https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/Hillsboro-mayor-proposes-Fenner-Avenue-extension-public-hearing-planned/2/20/72174.

• Morris gave a report of a joint meeting between the property maintenance and restoration committee and the community enhancement committee, held Sept. 29. The meeting was called to discuss streamlining the city’s permits, with several city administrators indicating that they wanted to “simplify” the process.

According to Morris, the “end goal” is for certificates of appropriateness to “be more simple to obtain.” Morris said that Walker (who is also the code enforcement officer) will be “working on the code book to reflect the various suggested changes.” After that, Morris said the committees plan to meet again, possibly with the zoning and annexation committee as well.

• Butler reported that since the last council meeting, the state has concluded their audit, and the city has “started to slow spending from now until the end of the year” as they prepare to start 2022 budget plans in the coming weeks.

• Stanforth proposed Oct. 21 and/or Oct. 26 as possible meeting dates for the finance committee to begin 2022 budget discussions, depending on committee members’ availability.

• Although Abbott did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, an abbreviated report was included in the council packet.

According to the safety and service director’s report, the Marriott Hotel project developers are still “working on the last piece of funding,” while other new businesses — including Goodwill, Marshall’s, The Porch and Wallick Communities — are still in various phases of development.

In August, during a special meeting, council voted to increase appropriations to the Blighted Property Abatement line item by $15,000 after Abbott said the city received a bid of $13,000 to demolish the site of a former Hillsboro business. She told council that the property owner had been given “30 days to remove all their property.” As of Tuesday, her report indicated that there has been an extension granted to “give the property owner additional time to remove belongings” from the site.

For infrastructure updates, Abbott listed North East Street and Northwoods Drive paving as “complete,” and the Main Street sidewalk and Springlake improvement projects as “ongoing.” There were also 29 building permits issued in the month of September.

• At the conclusion of the meeting, Harsha and recreation maintenance coordinator Rick Tipton discussed recent vandalism to Liberty Park restrooms.

Harsha said the most recent incident included heavy damage to the facilities, including to the partitions, toilets and toilet paper dispensers. Tipton added that he has had to shovel soap from the floors after the soap dispensers have been “stomped on.”

“This morning, I had to use five-gallon buckets of water to clean the floors,” he said. “It was a mess.”

Several council members suggested “surveillance cameras” in the area, while Harsha and Adkins pointed out that “unless you monitor every time someone goes in and out” the bathroom, it would be difficult to determine who caused the damage.

Some of the vandalism appears to be occurring “in the middle of the day,” and “you never know when it’s going to happen,” Harsha said.

“We’re putting some signs up to indicate the bathrooms are closed because they’re not repairable at this time,” the mayor added. “It’s a bad situation out there.”