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The Hillsdale City Council decided to sell more than $200,000 worth of little-used sludge removal equipment at its Monday meeting. The decision came after council members realized they con­tracted the sludge removal service to a third-party main­te­nance crew several years ago.

The equipment, pur­chased in 2012, was used for only one winter season until the sludge removal service was hired out to a private con­tractor in 2013. The $296,441 total cost for the equipment includes $18,500 for a tanker trailer, $50,000 for a semi tractor to pull it, and $227,941 for a sludge injector. Coun­cilman Bruce Sharp said he was dis­ap­pointed the city wasted a quarter of a million dollars.

“We spent $227,941 on a sludge injector almost three years ago and now we want to unload it,” Sharp said. “It’s ter­rible to spend that kind of money only to get rid of it. That’s poor planning on whoever did this.”

Coun­cilman Adam Stockford said he was con­fused why the city would con­tract private pro­fes­sionals to remove sludge when the city owned equipment to do it itself.

“Why in the world were we con­tracting some­thing out when we had the equipment to do it our­selves?” Stockford asked.

City Manager David Mackie responded, saying that to be as effi­cient as a private con­tractor the city would need to add another employee whose only job would be clearing sludge, which is an inef­fi­cient use of city funds.

“To get the same service we do with a private con­tractor and their equipment, the city would have to hire one employee to do the job year-round. That would be their only per­manent job,” Mackie said. “A con­tractor comes in and can do it much quicker. It makes financial sense to keep it con­tracted out.”

After selling the equipment, the city will allocate funds to a new gen­erator for the Hillsdale Board of Public Util­ities.

In other business, the council appointed Hillsdale College’s Assistant to the Pres­ident Mike Harner to the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority board.

TIFA is one of the city’s main assets for improving eco­nomic devel­opment and uti­lizes taxes on baseline property values in certain areas of town to improve the physical appearance of buildings and busi­nesses.

Harner, who was a member of the board several years ago, said he is excited to rejoin and looks forward to serving the com­munity.

“I served with TIFA back in 2009 to 2013,” Harner said, “and I took a break to focus on reestab­lishing the Hillsdale Golf team. Now that we have a great coaching staff, I had some time freed up and rejoined TIFA.”

Harner said his wife urged him to get involved with the municipal gov­ernment again and stressed the impor­tance of serving the com­munity.

“I’ll admit it was my wife that per­suaded me to get involved again,” Harner said. “She told me, ‘It’s important to serve the com­munity if you’re a part of it’ and she’s absolutely right. Being a part of the com­munity isn’t enough, you have to give back.”

The council also approved a pilot payment ordi­nance, which is a city tax subsidy, for the devel­opment of a new retirement home to be placed on the existing site of the Old Smoker’s Club Beer & Wine Tobacco shop at 8 S. Manning St.

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.