Marion City Council approved an ordinance Monday to raise taxes — increasing the mill levy by 2 mills.
The 2-mill increase was a change from an earlier budget proposal by city administrator Doug Kjellin asking for a 4-mill increase.
The difference between the two plans will be to take $19,640 out of the capital improvement budget. That money would have gone toward maintenance of the city building, but Kjellin said that money could also provided extra funds in case the price of expenditures increases — gas, brass wire, and creosote were some examples.
“We’re making a decision now that will affect us for a year and a half,” Kjellin said. “It’s very hard to get that crystal ball. I don’t like being cash poor.”
Council members and former city administrator David Mayfield questioned some of the city’s budgeted expenditures.
Councilman Bill Holdeman questioned an increase in electric production expense from $1.2 to $1.5 million. Kjellin said the difference is a projected increase in usage.
“That’s a big increase,” Holdeman said.
Holdeman voted against the budget with the 2-mill tax increase but voted for the ordinance to raise taxes.
Mayfield questioned $55,574 going to economic development. Of that total, Kjellin said $16,624 will pay his salary as quarter-time economic development director. The other part will cover the geo-mapping — computerized maps for sewer and water system, and land plats for the city.
Councilman Jerry Kline asked why there was a $6,574 increase for the baseball complex. With the new city electrical meters, the baseball fields electricity is charged exclusively to the city, without USD 408’s input, Kjellin explained.
The mill increase equates to $11.50 a year for a $50,000 home, $16.10 on a $70,000 home, and $22.98 on a $100,000 home. Since 2003, the city has raised the mill levy by 7.3 mills, an increase of less than a mill a year.
“You can’t just keep throwing money down a rat hole,” Mayor Mary Olson said.
The council unanimously approved Rose Mary Saunders as the grant administrator for the Community Development Block Grant for the sewer-line project for Jex, Billings, and Beebe’s addition. Through Ranson Financial, Saunders’ services will cost $14,500.
“In effect, the grant administrator makes sure the money is received and matched and appropriated correctly to the program,” Kjellin said. “When you start taking state or federal money, they make you jump through a lot of hoops.”
The grant will provide $180,000 worth of the estimated $613, 625 needed for the project project.
The project will come with a sewer rate increase from $22.50 to $24.94 with a combination of base and usage rate, Kjellin said.
The council also approved a contractor’s license for Bob Gillett and the city expenses for the month of $139,187.