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.