Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings….
Mayor wants crackdown on drugs
Hastings asks council for help; ordinance OK’d on upping fines for toxic discharges
By GARY ABERNATHY, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings on Monday asked city council members to investigate illegal drug use in the city, which he called an “epidemic” that is getting worse, saying, “I would like to take a hard line this spring and summer” in fighting the problem.
Also, council passed as an emergency an ordinance drafted by Dave Shoemaker’s Utilities Committee that increases fines on any businesses that pollute the city sewer system.
On the drug issue, Hastings urged council members to “get grassroots” and talk to individuals in their wards “and give whatever information you get to the administration and the police department. I want to try to put a dent into this.”
Hastings said he spoke recently with State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) about introducing a state law that would prohibit scrap dealers from paying clients in cash, which the mayor said would help reduce the drug trade.
On the sewer ordinance, Shoemaker said after the meeting that the city ordinance was outdated in regard to fines for violating toxic dumping into the sewer system. He said he was not aware of any current offenders and did not anticipate future offenses becoming a major issue, but, “We do expect to grow,” and it was time to revise the ordinance.
For example, some fines for violating the ordinance are as low as a minimum of $5. Such minimum fines have been raised now to $100, with maximum fines that are currently $50 being increased to $500. The revised ordinance does not affect sewer rates.
The Utilities Committee, which also includes Bonnie Parr and Brian Waller, met just before the regular council meeting on Monday. The ordinance passed as an emergency, with only Rod Daniels voting against it. Daniels said later he felt there was not enough time to examine the 28-page document or consider the impact of the fine increases.
In other matters, Hastings reported that recent u nion negotiations with the FOP police u nion and IAFF fire u nion were ongoing. In regard to the FOP, “There wasn’t any contentiousness,” said Hastings, although he noted that “neither side was happy.” He said the FOP contract could be resolved in a matter of days, while the IAFF issue is heading to fact-finding and arbitration, and it will likely be “90 to 120 days before there is a resolution.”
In answer to a question from local resident Richard Stiffler, Hastings said he was not aware of any change in the mutual aid agreement with the Paint Creek fire department, and said a recent issue involving concerns about Paint Creek’s usage of Hillsboro water was “overblown.”
“We have a good relationship with Paint Creek,” said the mayor.
In other matters, council:
• Approved the acquisition of a used bucket truck at $45,000 to replace one that auditor Gary Lewis said had “completely broken down” late last year.
• Heard acting safety and service director Rick Giroux report the acquisition of a new Dura Patch device for the street department which he said would be an improvement over the “cold patch” method of street repair.
• Heard Brian Waller report that he plans to hold a committee meeting soon with Festival of the Bells officials.
• And approved a resolution to pursue housing improvement grants, and another to enter into an agreement with the county on legal counsel for indigent defendants.
All council members were present.