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City to add $755 in letters to new sign

Staff writer

After Marion City Council members debated where to cut the city’s 2017 budget in the face of an 11 percent property tax hike, council members voted to spend another $755 to add lettering to a new $700 sign.

A first draft of the proposed budget would add more than 8 mills to the tax levy, taking it from 71.152 mills to 79.343 mills, pending equalization. Members discussed where to cut to avoid increasing the levy.

Even though they were talking about cuts, they also talked about spending.

Council approved a sign two weeks ago with the words “Marion City Building” and the city’s logo on it. It was created from limestone left over from an earlier project.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt wanted to add the name of the community center and addresses for it and city hall.

Heitschmidt said the addition were needed to make it easier for newcomers to locate the community center.

Council member Chris Costello moved to spend $775 to add the lettering, and Heitschmidt seconded the motion. The measure passed 3-1, with Costello, Heitschmidt, and Jerry Kline voting in favor and Melissa Mermis opposed. Mermis said she didn’t like the appearance of the sign.

Alex Case was present to complain about the massive amount of fireworks shot Sunday night near his home. He read a letter from his wife, Nicki, whom he said was unable to be at Tuesday’s meeting.

Fireworks were loud and long lasting, Case said.

“I’ve never seen or heard anything like what we saw and heard Sunday night,” Case said. “This deal went on for three hours, and every time a mortar went off, you could hear it come down on our roof.”

Case asked the council to consider banning fireworks in city limits, as they were for about 25 years, he said.

Heitschmidt said the council would discuss the issue July 18.

Randy Collett, economic development director, gave the council a first look at findings of a housing study done April 21 to June 28.

A 12-member committee representing government, business, and education conducted the study.

The team interviewed Marion’s largest employers about housing’s impact on hiring and drove through residential areas assessing housing, Collett said.

Among the team’s findings, Collett said, were:

  • no senior housing is available without income guidelines;
  • there are not enough three- to four-bedroom, two-bathroom family homes;
  • insufficient houses are priced between $65,000 and $90,000; and
  • an incentive program for repairs of entry level homes and rental homes would boost home values and curb appeal.

A report, required by the state as a precursor for possible housing grants, will be filed this week, Collett said.

Collett plans a public forum on the team’s findings at 7 p.m. July 14 in the Community Center ballroom, prior to a July 20 presentation to the Housing Interagency Advisory Committee in Topeka.

Last modified July 7, 2016

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