Cost of tablet computers hard to swallow
A proposal, apparently supported by the mayor, to equip council members with wireless tablets they could use to communicate about city business received a chilly reception at last week’s Marion City Council meeting.
“I think it would be nice if you waited a little over a year until I’m gone,” council member Jerry Kline said.
Mayor Todd Heitschmidt responded: “You can resign right now if you want to.”
The tablets, proposed to be purchased from Verizon Wireless, would cost $2,379.93 up front with a continuing monthly fee of $139.30 to connect to Verizon’s wireless phone network.
Council members would be able to use them not just in council chambers but wherever cellular service was available.
City administrator Roger Holter said the system would pay for itself in 5½ years because of reduced paper costs.
But council members John Wheeler and Susan Gray agreed with Kline that they probably wouldn’t use the tablets.
“I think that money would buy some patch material and fix a couple of holes in the street,” Kline said.
Wheeler also expressed concern about cost of the tablets, which could not be updated to function on a new, faster 5G network expected to be installed starting in September.
Heitschmidt said the real reason for wanting tablets was not to lessen use of paper but to avoid situations in which city officials might find their personal email subject to public disclosure under the state’s open meetings and open records acts if they used personal accounts to conduct city business.
“It’s not because of the cost,” Heitschmidt said. “I think it’s a better idea to have that to defend ourselves from the other side.”
He did not elaborate on what the “other side” might be.
Council member Chris Costello, a lawyer, said he understood Heitschmidt’s concern but still thought the tablets weren’t necessary.
Holter, who professed to be neutral on the proposal, offered to check the cost of tablets that would run only on WiFi, such as that provided within the council chambers, instead of on the more costly mobile phone network.
No motion to accept or reject the proposal was offered.
KPTS ads airing
Economic development director Randy Collett reported that KPTS had finished requested corrections and begun airing a 30-second commercial it had promised but neglected to air a year ago.
The council took no action on whether to extend its previous $920 annual contract to air the commercials 36 times a year.
One reported difficulty with the commercials had been a reported city desire to include a sunset.
KPTS’s chief executive wrote in a letter to the editor of the Record two weeks ago that by the time KPTS could look for a sunset to shoot, “the gloom of late autumn had set in, and for an extended period there were very few beautiful sunsets to be captured.”
This prompted Gray to ask: “Does he really think we don’t have sunsets in the fall?”
Costello added: “The colors in winter are better. Where’s he from, anyway?”
Collett then interjected that he had never specified that sunsets be included, only that he had wanted picturesque scenes of people enjoying recreational lakes near Marion rather than images of people just driving over Marion Dam.
Same tax rate
With little public discussion, council members approved publication of a proposed budget that would call for a tax rate of 57.625 mills, essentially the same as at present.
The only specific discussed was funding for Marion Historical Museum, which a week earlier had made a pitch for continued funding.
Before that meeting, Holter had proposed cutting the museum’s allocation by more than 40 percent, to $7,500.
“I took feedback from you, and museum funding will not be decreased,” Holter told the council, without explaining how or from whom the feedback had been received, apparently via private messages delivered outside of meetings.
The museum will continue to get $12,600 under his revised proposal.
The city’s public hearing on the budget will be at 4:30 p.m. July 30 — two weeks later than originally intended (but still well within state deadlines) because adoption of the proposed budget did not occur in time for inclusion as a public notice in last week’s holiday issue of the Record, which was printed before the council met July 2.
Used truck approved
Purchase of a 2010 Ford F-150 XLT four-door pickup with 125,171 miles on it was approved.
The city will pay Midway Motors of Hillsboro $15,000 cash for the pickup, which will be used by the city’s public works department.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cash sale price for that model of truck with similar age and mileage is $12,817.
“It’s a Ford. Get it,” Kline said.
“I knew Jerry would appreciate it,” public works director Marty Frederickson said.
No support for MOPS
The council took no action on a request from Mothers of Preschoolers for the city to contribute $100 toward cost of operating its annual Run for Your Momma race.
The group has requested money for three years in a row, but the council has never provided any.
No motion to accept or reject the request was offered.