City council startled by county budget

Staff writer

City officials are scrambling trying to figure out what to do after county commissioners approved purchase of an emergency radio system that would be incompatible with the city’s.

Purchase of 800mh emergency radios was included in the county’s proposed budget. If cities don’t follow suit, police and fire departments won’t be able to communicate with the sheriff’s department.

With Marion’s budget already approved, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt told council members they would have to find $122,000 to convert to the same system.

“So our county wants us to spend $120,000?” council member John Wheeler asked incredulously.

Heitschmidt said at the end of the meeting that he hoped some would attend the Aug. 22 county budget hearing to voice concerns about the radios, as well as the county’s five mill budget increase.

Spur Ridge Vet Hospital owner Brendan Kraus was met with skepticism when he proposed buying a half lot north of the animal hospital in Batt Industrial Park to move parking and extend the business.

The land south is not suitable for development because of its slope and drainage, Kraus said.

In contention was Kraus’s proposal for reduced economic development incentives on the purchase, which council members were unsure they wanted to provide.

“We’re all in favor of using the lots and expanding the business,” council member Chris Costello said. “I’d hate to see Randy (Collett) out there chasing a business that needs three acres and we’ve only got two acres.”

Kraus wasn’t ready to commit to paying full price for the property.

Council members tabled the matter until the next meeting. Kraus said he’ll come back if they will make a decision in two weeks, but if they wanted him to buy the land outright, he’ll need more time to think about it.

Council approved an offer from John and Amy Minor, who operate Perma-Column, 828 N. Roosevelt St., to purchase an additional lot in the industrial park at full price for extra storage room.

Council members kicked off a Main St. streetscape project by approving an engineering contract with Evans, Bierly, Hutchison and Associates, and agreed to enforce a penalty clause for construction work at East Park that has proceeded too slowly.

In other matters, council members voted unanimously to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to repair sidewalks reported to be in poor repair in a housing assessment.

Hangar rental charges at the airport to will be aligned more closely with prevailing rates in comparable towns, and Eagle Communications will pay $2.50 per pole instead of $1 to use city utility poles.

Public works director Marty Fredrickson reported that sewer lines in four areas of town need new PVC linings.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2016