• Last modified 1139 days ago (April 7, 2021)


Hillsboro adds a penny, turns down Salem

Staff writer

Hillsboro city council voted unanimously Tuesday to amend electrical rates to add a surcharge of a penny per kilowatt-hour.

Customers won’t see the charge on their bills until the first of June. June bills reflect energy usage from mid-April to mid-May.

For residential and commercial customers inside the city limits, monthly rates for electricity will be $0.1195 per kWh.

Customers outside city limits will pay $0.1195 per kWh for the first 4,000 kWh, then $0.1250 per kWh over 4,000 kWh.

The $12.10 monthly base rate does not change.

For temporary service, rates will be $0.1195 per kWh, plus an $18 base rate per month.

The rate adjustment is to pay a surcharge imposed by Kansas Power Pool because it had to purchase energy during February’s subzero cold spike that drove up the cost of natural gas used to produce electricity.

Salem Home

The public building commission turned down a request from Salem Home CEO Peter Mungai for $155,748 to install a new heating and cooling system to take care of the nursing home.

Mungai said after the city separated water, electricity, sprinkler system, a fire panel system, and a door alarm system as part of separating the nursing home from the old hospital, the remaining item is the heating and cooling system.

“We have on our own put in a new boiler that is heating Salem Home and the attic of the old hospital,” Mungai wrote in a letter to the city council. “We are also in the process of installing a 350 KW backup generator that can power the entire Salem Home building.”

What led to the council’s decision not to pay the $155,748 is that the building commission fund would be nearly drained of its $195,000 balance.

Mayor Lou Thurston said the city has bailed out Salem Home twice in the past.

The city used to own the building and Salem Home rented the wing it operates in.

When the nursing home was struggling with expenses, the city forgave rent. The forgiven rent amounted to $358,050.

The city already spent $101,000 to separate the properties, and sold Salem Home its portion of the building for $1.

“The city has made every good faith effort to help out Salem Home,” Thurston said.

The building commission still has to pay a bond issue related to building Hillsboro Community Hospital.

“That all said, I don’t know where the money is going to come from,” Thurston told Mungai.

Thurston said he didn’t regret the money spent on Salem Home because it’s an important part of the community, but he just couldn’t see granting the nursing home’s request.

Thurston said he admires the way Mungai took on a difficult challenge in running Salem Home and has “done an excellent job of it.”

Thurston said unless the council could come up with alternative funding such as a grant, “we just don’t have the money.”

Discussion ended without a motion being made.

City administrator Matt Stiles told council members that Bomgaars, a farm store coming to Hillsboro, will hold a hiring fair at city hall April 21 – 22.

The company has hired a store manager and hopes to hire about 24 people for the Hillsboro store.

Last modified April 7, 2021