The Christmas light display contest, with prizes funded by the city, drew skeptic comments from a concerned citizen at Monday’s council meeting.
Council members voted Nov. 21 to sponsor a Christmas light contest instead of giving a $10 credit on customers’ electric bills for December, as has been done in some past years. The contest will award $500 to a first-place winner, $300 to a second-place winner, and $100 to a third-place winner. It was planned as an alternative to $2,500 in lost revenue if a credit were given to each customer.
Resident Jackie Hett spoke during public forum.
“The thing I am here about is $500 for this lighting contest,” Hett said. “Is Marion that wealthy that we can do this?”
Hett said she believes $500 is a lot of prize money and a reduction in utility rates would be a better benefit. Hett said her question was directed at coming years.
“I know it’s done for this year,” Hett said.
Council members listened to Hett, who spoke her piece, thanked them for listening, and left the meeting.
After Hett stepped out the door, council member Chris Costello and mayor Todd Heitschmidt both said they’d heard only positive comments about the contest.
Council members approved an amendment to city planning and zoning regulations concerning storage containers. The amendment prohibits using cargo containers, railroad cars, trucks, vans, converted mobile homes, recreational or other vehicles, and other items originally built for purposes other than storage being used for storage on residential property.
However, transport containers or portable containers can be used for up to 30 days per calendar year, and licensed and bonded contractors can use them while working on property if the building inspector authorizes them.
A building permit must be obtained to place a storage container on a property.
“What made this issue come to light?” Costello asked zoning administrator Clayton Garnica.
Garnica said it’s been noticed that there are a growing number of items used as storage containers in town.
Council members had a first read of a proposed fee schedule. The amended fee schedule is planned for approval Dec. 19.
“The majority of the changes have already been discussed throughout the budget process,” city administrator Roger Holter said.
Amending all fees at the same time makes the process simpler, Holter said.
Fees changed are licensing investigations, $50; fireworks stands, $200; color printing, 85 cents per page; day after event access fee for ballroom, $50; construction fee for building permits, up 20 cents per square foot; ball park rental, $50 plus $50 deposit; accident reports, $20; water rates increased 5 cents per 1,000 gallons; trash base rate increased 50 cents; and dumpster fees increased 50 cents per bag.
Council members reviewed an electrical capital improvement proposal presented by city electrical superintendent Christian Pedersen. On the list are tree trimming and wire replacement in three phases and upgrading the electrical grid layout at the industrial park.
A team of AmeriCorps volunteers working at Homestead Affordable Housing was introduced to the council.