Hillsboro city leaders OK restrictions to city hall in wake of new coronavirus

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Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 6:00 am

Anxious to expedite matters in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hillsboro city commissioners tried to make quick work of their regular meeting Monday and limit time spent in close contact with others; 75 minutes later the eight city leaders and five spectators adjourned.

Concerns about COVID-19 prompted City Auditor Matt Mutzenberger to request that access to city hall be limited.

Mutzenberger explained that three city workers at the office all have family members with compromised immune systems.

Commissioners granted Mutzenberger permission to enact restrictions using his discretion, focusing on closing the office to people with cough and fever symptoms as well as those who have traveled nationally and internationally to disease hotspots. 

Mutzenberger also encouraged phone and email access and online payments to reduce direct contact between members of the public and city staff.

Commissioners also discussed the possibility that the format for future meetings could be adapted to prevent more than 10 people from congregating.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is April 6 and could be conducted online with public access provided without the public being present. No final decisions were made on the matter.

In other business Monday, city commissioners:

  • Reached a final agreement on a three-year lease for the city armory with Mayville State University’s Child Development Programs, which operates a child care center there. The rent was raised $50 per month to $1,000 and the two sides delineated custodial duties to be shared by CDP employees and city workers.
  • Accepted the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the replatting and rezoning of the Riverwalk Addition west of Interstate 29. Attorney J.R. Strom said notices will be published for public hearings and final action April 6.
  • Heard from Mutzenberger that negotiations continue with Jordahl Custom Homes regarding infrastructure plans for its multi-family housing development. Plans will require engineering review, noted City Commissioner Levi Reese.
  • Heard from Commission President Terry Sando that Traill County planned to resurface Post Road and County Road 11, which could allow for the city to tap into an asphalt plant set up locally.
  • Noted that construction of the city’s electric vehicle charging station was slated to move forward. Sando, Reese and City Superintendent Jim Anderson will work on developing the exact layout near I-29. The city’s engineers, AE2S of Grand Forks, also will be consulted. The project will be funded through a grant from the state’s share of the Volkswagen settlement.
  • Continued efforts to secure the old Hillsboro Banner building on Caledonia Avenue. The empty building’s owner has been approached about donating the building to the city and allowing the city to demolish the structure to clear downtown space for new construction. Reese suggested the commission secure a cost estimate related to bringing the property to the point that it is ready for sale.
  • Asked Anderson to develop a list of priorities for street repairs and infrastructure fixes.
  • Heard from City Commissioner Lorraine Tibert that Kathy Duval has agreed to return as pool manager for the 2020 season. Tibert and City Commissioner Dave Sather urged that the city should try to open the pool for summer even if some fixes are needed. Commissioners agreed to begin advertising for lifeguards.
  • Approved the purchase of a new mosquito fogger for $9,770 at the request of Anderson. Funds are available in the mosquito control fund to finance the purchase.

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