Before considering 10 items of legislation at the monthly Hillsboro City Council meeting last Thursday, council members heard comments from arcade owner Brandon Adkins about a proposal to increase license fees for amusement devices.
The proposal would increase the annual license fees from $25 to $50. Adkins previously made a request to city council to end the fee.
“I’m upset because back during COVID I paid for my license fees, and … we were shut down and unoperational during these times, so I felt the license should be transferred over for an additional year, being that I paid for them, and I didn’t get to use them because we were shut down for the pandemic,” said Adkins.
Adkins said that in addition to operating in Ohio, he has businesses in Kentucky and West Virginia. He said Hillsboro is the only place he has ever been required to pay a licensing fee for amusement devices.
“This law was put in place back in the ’80s and ’90s when the arcade business was booming,” said Adkins. “I don’t even know if it’s going to be here in three or four more years.”
Adkins said, “I’m here to ask if you would maybe consider looking at the license and looking at what was going on in the ’80s and ‘90s versus what today’s real world is with the arcades.”
Council member Greg Maurer said that the amusement device licensing fees in Hillsboro were the lowest of the many cities he has researched.
In a separate matter, mayor Justin Harsha spoke about plans for Hillsboro’s 2022 Festival of the Bells.
“As everyone knows, the festival didn’t happen the last two years because of the pandemic, and we weren’t able to get together on that, but this year the festival will come back,” said Harsha.
Harsha said the festival will be held at a planned green space owned by the city on West Main Street at the former properties of Highland Enterprise and Union Stockyards. He said upcoming infrastructure projects would have interfered with holding the festival uptown.
“This site is the perfect place to house the festival and future events for the city of Hillsboro,” said Harsha. “We’re hopeful that it’s a great event and comes back strong, and we’re excited about it.”
In her report to the council, Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said the city is working to secure funding for the planned green space on West Main Street and a proposed extension of Roberts Lane.
She said electric vehicle charging stations that have been installed at Colony Park will be inspected before put into use, and that the city is working to replace its tornado sirens.
Abbott thanked the city crews who worked to keep roads safe during the recent ice storm.
At Abbott’s request, the council went into an executive session to consider the purchase of property for public purposes.
The council read a resolution to transfer the property at 301 E. South St. to the Community Improvement Corporation for the purpose of economic development, and the resolution will have a third reading at the next council meeting.
Council adopted a resolution to identify blighted properties in the city and authorize the mayor to apply for a state grant to fund the abatement and revitalization of 17 properties after voting unanimously to forgo the rule requiring three readings for resolutions. The resolution needed to be passed to meet a Feb. 28 grant deadline.
A resolution to allow the safety and service director to apply for and obtain a Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) agreement for storm water facilities was adopted to meet a March 1 application deadline. The council also suspended the three-reading rule for the resolution.
A related resolution to accept the lowest and best bid for the third phase of the city’s ongoing storm water project was adopted as emergency legislation.
Additional costs totaling $38,700 needed to repair city snowplows, build a dump truck, and pay for rents and leases were approved in a separate resolution.
A resolution to increase appropriations within the city’s general fund was unanimously adopted to allow the Hillsboro Police Department to be able to use a $100 donation that was not accounted for in the budget.
The resolution to increase the license fee for amusement devices along with an ordinance vacating an unnamed alley between O’Connell Street and an auditor’s parcel and a resolution to amend sections of the city code to provide limitations on water and sewer service to residents outside the city will have a second reading at the next city council meeting.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.
Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha (left) and safety and service director Brianne Abbott are pictured at last week’s meeting.