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Marion council strikes residency code

Staff writer

The Marion City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to revisions of six ordinances, including one which would remove the residency requirement currently imposed on certain positions.

When the charter ordinance establishing the five-member council was passed in 2005, it required the city administrator, city clerk, deputy city clerk, and city treasurer to live within a three-mile radius of the city.

City Treasurer Becky Makovec was a Marion resident when she was hired in 1999, but moved six miles east of town in 2001. When she was appointed city treasurer in 2006, the residency requirement was not applied. Makovec said she was told the restriction was not an issue.

“Recently I asked again, and I was told everything was taken care of,” Makovec said.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said he noticed the discrepancy during a routine review of the ordinance requested by a council member.

“What you have before you is the amendment that drops the deputy city clerk and city treasure from the residence requirements, basically amending the ordinance to fit our actual practice,” City Attorney Keith Collett said.

Collett then offered an alternative viewpoint for the council to consider when he suggested removing the residency requirement entirely for all covered positions.

“My preference would be to eliminate this whole section and hire the best people you can,” Collett said. “The best people will want to move to this community anyway. My political advice is to eliminate this section and treat these decisions as appointment decisions and hiring decisions, and treat that as a factor.”

Mayor Mary Olson responded to Collett’s comment.

“The only thing I’d say is that we like to call upon them for community things, we like to see them out in the community doing their thing,” Olson said.

“I have a little bit of concern with not having a residency requirement,” council member Todd Heitschmidt said. “Following along Keith’s thought process, that puts a lot of faith in future councils to stand up for that. I will try to have some faith in our future council folks, and actually the mayor, to make those appointments that fit as we desire them to be.”

The council approved the revision which eliminated the residency requirement for all city positions with a 4-0 vote. Council member Jerry Kline was absent from the meeting.

The council approved four ordinances incorporating the most recent national and international building, electric, plumbing, and residential codes.

The sixth ordinance revision authorizes the council to create and modify fee schedules by passing resolutions. Some fees were previously tied to ordinances, and revising a fee triggered the more expensive and time consuming process for ordinances.

Tree dump operation

The council enthusiastically embraced a plan to revamp operations of the city tree dump that would maintain services, eliminate fees, and save labor cost.

Utilizing city crews and the police department is the key to making the plan work, Kjellin said.

“We would have city crews unlock the tree dump every weekday morning, and the police department has agreed to lock it up at night on weekdays,” Kjellin said. “We would save approximately $5,000 on attendant labor.”

“We could go with our current tree dump attendant policy of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and possibly even extend hours on Sundays, which would allow another weekend day opportunity for our residents. Even being open 1 to 7 on Sundays still reflects the savings of labor.”

“Is there a set time they’re going to close?” council member Chris Meierhoff asked. “People get used to it being open, then suddenly they go out there one night and it’s closed at 7 one night and the next at 8.”

“I think sunset would be a logical time to close,” Kjellin said. “We’ll give it a try. I think it’s going to save money, residents don’t have to pay for it, and we’ll have more operational hours.”

Power pool shrinks

A dozen cities are withdrawing from the organization Marion purchases its electricity from, but Kansas Power Pool Director of Member Services Carl Myers downplayed the significance of the losses in his presentation to the council.

“We are losing 12 of our 42 members, primarily because they didn’t want to sign the long-term power purchase contract that you all did sign,” Myers said.

“That leaves 21 cities that have signed and have committed to this power pool for the long term, and we think that’s going to provide very good benefits. 21 cities still represent 70 percent of our total load, so it’s not going to be a huge problem for us,” Myers said.

Council members did not express concerns about the reduction in group size, but Olson asked what KPP was doing to recruit more members.

“We’re still looking for new members, and we’ve got some interest out there from other cities,” Myers said. “I’ve probably visited five different cities so far this year to see if they’re interested. We’ve got two in western Kansas and one south of Wichita that are very interested, and they will be very good loads for us.”

Myers also presented a $375 grant award to the city.

“This comes from an application Doug made on behalf of the city for an entrance sign you’re looking at,” Myers said. “It’s not exactly what you requested, but hopefully it will help.”

In other business:

  • Chad Gormley presented a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board to re-zone property for the Victory Plaza subdivision for the Homestead Affordable Housing project from low-density residential to high-density residential. The board recommended variances for conditional use permits and setback requirements as well. The council unanimously approved the recommendations.
  • A resolution to correct three minor discrepancies in the legal description of city boundaries passed unanimously.
  • The council approved bills in the amount of $50,822 and payroll in the amount of $27,988.
  • A fireworks permit was granted to Wholesale Fireworks Enterprises to operate a stand at 1111 E. Main St.
  • Phyllis Kreutziger and Linda Kroupa were appointed to full four-year terms on the Marion Library Board. Vernon Bowers was appointed to fill a vacant position on the board.

The next meeting of the council is scheduled for May 14.

Last modified May 2, 2012

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