• Last modified 323 days ago (Aug. 30, 2023)


Marion gets 1st peek at where extra mills will go

Staff writer

Marion City Council members and the public got their first look at next year’s proposed budget — which exceeds the revenue-neutral rate by 9 mills — Tuesday.

How the city planned to spend taxpayers’ money as well as revenue it brings in had been a mystery to council members and residents. General fund expenditures are projected to be $2,256,953 compared with a current-year estimate of $1,683,279.

“When did my elected representatives vote” on the needs of the community, one resident asked.

“We didn’t vote,” Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel answered.

With the exception of a July 5 special meeting during which consultant Scot Loyd went over generalities and said the city needed to do a better job building up reserves, the council has not discussed the spending plan for next year.

“I’d like to thank the council for coming together tonight,” said Herbel, who has pushed for more transparency about the budget. “I need to remind you of the revenue neutral rate. The proposed mill levy is about 9 mills higher.”

Herbel, Zach Collett, and Jerry Kline raised questions about certain departments’ proposed budgets as well as equipment purchases.

Almost every department — from Marion’s cemetery to its police department — would get more money next year compared with estimated spending for this year.

Increases include:

  • Police department — $441,135, up 1.9 mills from a current-year estimate of $417,993. This year’s spending is projected to be higher than in 2022 despite the fact that the department operated with dramatically reduced spending for most of the year so far.
  • Streets and alleys — $350,281, up 10.1 mills from $230,000.
  • General administration — $318,359, up 2 mills from $294,734.
  • Library — $105,979, up 2 mills from $82,354.
  • Community enrichment — $102,198, up 2 mills, up from $78,573.
  • Parks — $85,000, up 1.3 mills from $70,000.
  • Cemetery — $80,000, up 1 mill from $68,343 because of an additional employee.
  • Museum — $40,225, up 2 mills from $16,600.
  • Municipal court — $37,498, up 2 mills from $13,873.
  • Economic development — $33,625, up 2 mills from $10,000.

City administrator Brogan Jones said he worked with Loyd and City Clerk Janet Robinson to develop the budget.

Former clerk Tiffany Jeffrey also helped. She works for Scot Loyd. One reason why former city administrator Roger Holter stayed on longer last year than had been expected was that Jeffrey needed assistance with the city’s budget.

Now, the city pays $100 an hour for her time as a consultant.

The city could get through only 13.5% of a year with cash reserves in its general fund, Jones said.

Cash in its utility fund could get the city through 22.7% of the year, Jones said.

The council will vote on the budget and exceeding the revenue-neutral rate after residents get a chance to speak at a budget hearing at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the basement of Marion Community Center.

Last modified Aug. 30, 2023