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Marion police chief appointed

Staff writer

Marion City Council officially promoted assistant police chief Tyler Mermis to chief of police. He will receive a salary of $42,000.

The council approved Mayor Mary Olson’s appointment after a 10-minute executive session.

Although Mermis is still on leave serving in the military, he is the acting chief. Clinton Jeffrey was appointed to assistant chief.

The position was available because former Chief Josh Whitwell had taken a job as a special agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Currently there are only two full-time officers available for patrols and investigations — Jeffrey and Brad Cady. The preferred capacity for the department is five full-time officers, City Administrator Doug Kjellin said.

“We’re still looking for a fourth officer,” Kjellin said.

Council member Bill Holdeman talked about asking Florence Police Chief Mike Stone if he would want to join the department. Stone has worked with MPD several times this past year.

Front desk position

City Clerk Angela Lange asked the council to consider filling the third front desk position vacated by Diane Costello this past August.

She laid out 11 project duties she would like to complete. The list included learning grant administration to take care of small community block development grants for the city.

“Grants where it wouldn’t make sense to outsource it,” Lange said.

She also wanted to be more involved with fire department billing. The fire department currently bills for non-resident car accidents where they are called. Fire Chief Mike Regnier discussed a proposal with Lange to start billing for all structure fires, in or outside of the city limits.

Olson agreed that a position was needed. She cited that utility billing clerk Becky Makovec currently counts the city’s cash at the front desk because she cannot leave the phone.

“If you think that’s a safe way for her to do that,” Olson said. “I will disagree with you.”

The council approved the position 4-1; Jerry Kline was opposed.

The city will start advertising the position with pay between $8 and $12 an hour.

Utility billing

Kjellin brought a draft of a revised utility billing ordinance.

As he specified earlier, the changes would take out any language in the policy referring to an appeals process.

“The buck stops at my desk,” Kjellin said.

“I’m on the council to make decisions,” Holdeman countered. “I don’t mind making tough ones.”

Before Holdeman could bring up the Ernest Barrell situation that brought this issue before the council, Olson interrupted him.

“I don’t want to discuss anything that’s already happened,” she said. “You want to do that in work session then do it.”

The council asked Kjellin to clarify the tenant responsibilities in the ordinance and he agreed to bring the ordinance to the council for a vote for the Jan. 23 meeting.

In other business:

  • The bid from Koch Construction was clarified and the price was not changed to replace a stone retaining wall that the city damaged on Teresa Huffman’s property. The bid was approved for $3,260.
  • The council approved a resolution waiving the city from the requirement for generally accepted accounting principles. GAAP rules to not apply to cities who must meet the cash basis and budget laws of Kansas, the ordinance states. Kjellin said the council approves the ordinance every year.
  • The council appointed Kjellin as the freedom of information officer for the city.

The next city council meeting will be 4:30 p.m. Jan. 23.

Last modified Jan. 11, 2012

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