Council declines to reimburse senior center for repair

Staff writer

At a previous Marion City Council meeting, Norma Kline asked the city to pay a $112 bill to Flaming’s after the kitchen air conditioner went out at Marion Senior Center.

The air conditioner began working again after city crews replaced a transformer on the pole that supplies power to the center across the street. Council members voted Monday to not reimburse the senior center for that bill, although Kline said the bill was only incurred because the city’s power lines were faulty.

“It is my recommendation that we do not reimburse,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “It’s unfortunate but electrical lines are limited liability businesses as regulated by state and federal statutes.”

He said there was no way to determine exactly what caused the air conditioner to fail or cause the transformer to fail.

“Crews changed the fuse and the air conditioner worked fine for awhile but it broke again,” Holter said. “Fuses go out to protect the grid and customers from surges in power.”

He said agreeing to pay the bill could set a dangerous precedent requiring the city to pay any electric bills due to any faults. Holter recommended that residents avoid situations like this in the future by calling the city after an outage before a contractor.

“I think the legal process in line with a situation like this has been followed,” council member Jerry Dieter said. “I’d like to help but I think this is the right thing.”

The council voted to not repay the bill with council member Jerry Kline abstaining.

After Kline didn’t learn of a change in time for a work session last week, Holter asked council members what would be the best way to contact council members in the future. Holter recommended the council consider purchasing tablets to better communication.

“I’m not happy about it, but I’m the oddball,” Kline said. “I don’t know if tablets will help. I think email takes too much time if overdone and I’m not going to sit by my computer and wait for an email.”

He said he likes for important information, like meeting changes to be expressed through phone calls, however other council members said they prefer email after a poll of the council by Holter.

“I just want to know what is the best way to communicate with everyone so this doesn’t happen in the future, and so I’m not spending a bunch of time leaving messages in three different places for five different people every time I need to contact them,” Holter said. “I don’t have time for that.”

Park restroom plans approved

Plans for a new restroom and stage to stand where the gazebo is in Central Park were accepted by council members Monday.

The stage would be 40 feet wide, 12 feet deep, and face Main St. Restrooms would be fully handicap accessible.

The whole project is estimated to cost around $105,000, Holter said. He hopes the project can be completely funded through donations, which raised nearly $33,000 last summer before the project fell apart due to disagreement on placing. Of that amount only $3,000 has been raised by the city, with the rest raised by MAC.

An additional $20,000 was pledged by a resident for this design, Holter said. MEDI, the park board, PRIDE, MAC, and the Chingawassa committee have already accepted the plans.

A resident that previously pledged $20,000 for a restroom/storm shelter structure changed their donation to $4,000 and the current $20,000 pledged is from at least two different residents, Heitschmidt said.

The structure would extend 40 ft. from the current gazebo location and utilize current utility lines and sidewalks. It would be built to match the shelter on the east side of the park near the horseshoe pits. Depending on the amount raised, aluminum struts could be added to the top of the stage for lighting and rigging. No trees will have to be removed to construct the facility, which Holter said could happen as early as next spring if fundraising efforts are successful.

If the money cannot be raised by donations the city could decide to fund the rest of the project, however that has not been discussed by council members, Holter said.

According to Holter, the stage, while it will allow for larger acts, will still not be large enough to fit requirements for headlining acts of Chingawassa Days.

In other business:

  • Heitschmidt spoke about meeting etiquette and asked residents and council members to silence their phones while attending meetings.
  • The council tabled an option to sell paving bricks from Fourth and Williams Sts. repairs to the Antique Brick Warehouse in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • A payment to Hett Construction for work on Fourth and Williams Sts. for $47,673 was approved.
  • A payment to EBH Engineering for $11,116 was approved for work on the street project.
  • A drawdown request from CDBG for $94,530 was approved and then approved as payment to Vogts-Parga for work on the street project.

 

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