City retreats from tax, utility increases

Staff writer

Marion City Council sent city staff back to the drawing board Monday with instructions to revise a draft that included a 2.3 mill, or $23,748, tax increase. The increase would have amounted to about $22 a year for a typical $85,000 home.

Councilman Jerry Kline expressed concerns raising taxes to purchase equipment.

The proposed budget included money for a new backhoe, dump truck, and bucket truck, as well as a 2 percent pay increase for all city workers.

Kline said if the city were to increase taxes he would rather see the extra money for a city improvement project, not equipment.

“The people want to see that their money is going to something that would benefit them. The streets benefit them,” Kline said.

He said he would agree to buying used equipment to avoid a tax increase. The council last week rejected an increase in electric rates to pay for the equipment.

On Monday, the council charged Administrator Doug Kjellin with researching prices for used equipment and a street sealing project. An additional budget workshop was scheduled for 5 p.m. next Monday.

“We need to put our priorities in line, and make some effort to maintain what we have,” Councilman Todd Heitschmidt said. “We need a long-term plan to replace one or two streets a year and pay for it, not wait until we have to do a multimillion-dollar bond project.”

Mayor Mary Olson agreed.

“That’s just exactly what I’ve been looking for for six years,” she said.

In other business;

  • Marion police did away with a plan to open their firing range to public use. Chief Tyler Mermis said liability insurance and labor needed would be too costly.
  • The council approved the purchase of a flat bed spray rig to help maintain the city’s levee.
  • The council contracted with TMITC Services of Topeka, the provider of its employee drug tests, to provide counseling now done by Prairie View Inc. of Newton.
  • Council members also discussed possibly applying for a grant to defray costs of park restrooms.
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