City electric rates to go up

Staff writer

Marion residents will see their electricity bills go up
Feb. 1.

The increase is to 10.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, up from 10.4 cents an increase of 4 percent, approved Monday by Marion City Council. City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the increase would amount to about a $2 increase on every city bill. Kjellin said the reason for the increase is that Kansas Power Pool is increasing their transmission and energy costs.

Jerry Kline was the only council member who voted against the increase.

“We never work on trying to save money,” he said. “It’s always pass it on, pass it on.”

Kjellin argued that the increase was necessary. The alternatives were raising sales or property taxes or cutting services provided. He calculated the amount lost with KPP’s rate increase to be between $28,000 and $48,000. Electric billing accounts for 21 percent of the city’s general fund, about $300,000 last year.

“We’ve spent our money wisely,” Kjellin said. “That’s why we have to do a bond to repair streets, working with CDBG on streets. We are down to basic services.”

Kline responded, “I bet if we hired an efficiency expert they would find a lot of ways to save money.”

Council member Chris Meierhoff countered, “Then we’d pay an efficiency expert.”

After the meeting, Kline said he could name a number of places where the city could save money but he did not elaborate on specific expenses.

Mapping

The city council approved Geographic Information Systems mapping for electrical services in Marion.

Midland GIS Solutions would measure every electrical pole, line, and phasing operation into physical maps and on disks. The company also provides computer and web-based map programs but Erin Allen, Business Development for Midland, recommended against those costly programs because Marion would not be big enough to use them regularly.

“At this point we can have this memorialized on paper,” Kjellin said. “We can fall back to that history.”

The mapping project will cost the city $11,227 but the city is already on a list to receive a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for about $7,700. Kjellin said $5,000 is already earmarked in the capital improvement fund for mapping.

Allen said Midland could complete the mapping fieldwork, locating and measuring items, in two weeks.

Kjellin wrote in a memo to the council, “Under current FEMA guidelines, this type of mapping is critical in requesting Disaster Relief Assistance.”

Mayor Mary Olson agreed that electrical mapping was necessary.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” she said.

In other business

  • The council approved a new ordinance changing the territory between the city and Flint Hills Electric Cooperative. Flint Hills Electric requested the change to cover electric signs on the south side of U.S. 56 placed on two empty lots. The ordinance has language that if the city fills the two lots and connects city utilities to them, it would begin paying for the two signs.
  • Kjellin told the council that the city would repair curb and guttering around the southwest driveway of the Marion County Record Office. Kjellin said the city has replaced curb and guttering before on South Roosevelt and North Locust. Kjellin asked the council how much of the curb and guttering should be repaired, specifically the entire distance between Third and Fourth streets along Water Street. They left that to the discretion of Kjellin and street superintendent Marty Frederickson.
  • The city renewed its medical insurance with Blue Cross/ Blue Shield. The monthly premium to single employees is $339 and the city pays 100 percent of that policy. The city also covers 25 percent of a policy to cover family members. If employees want a different plan with a lower deductable, they have to make up the difference.
  • Police Chief Tyler Mermis recommended the city place four-way stops at the intersections of Roosevelt and Denver, Lawrence, and Freeborn. His concern was for children walking to Marion Elementary School. Olson mentioned a grant might be available through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program.
  • Olson brought up the 1981 dump truck mentioned in Frederickson’s report. The truck was worked on seven times between Jan. 7 and Jan. 18. Kjellin said the truck is basically shot but a solution to the problem was not discussed at the meeting.

 

Quantcast