New Hays mayor has Marion roots
Life in Marion prepared him well for mayoral duties in Hays, James Meier said.
Meier, who will be sworn in as mayor Monday, lived in Durham until he was in eighth grade. His mother owned a restaurant there.
He attended school at Hillsboro. Then his mother bought the Wagon Wheel Express and the family moved to Marion.
After graduating from Marion High School in 2000, he went off to two universities, Emporia State, the University of Kansas for a pharmacy degree.
He then moved to Hays in 2011 to work for the cancer treatment center at Hays Medical Center.
Meier was elected to a four-year term on the commission in 2015 and will serve one year as mayor.
The city was beset by tax issues when he campaigned, Meier said.
The city’s general fund comes entirely from sales tax revenue, but Internet sales have dampened sales tax revenue.
“If you look at property tax on a per-dollar evaluation basis, we have the second-lowest property tax, second only to Johnson County,” Meier said.
Water supply is an ever-present issue. No river runs nearby. Water comes primarily from wells.
The city purchased a ranch southwest of Kinsley a decade ago with the intention of developing it as a water source. Now is the time to make that happen, Meier said.
The estimated cost of conversion and building a pipeline is $70 million, and the city expects to pay cash for the work.
“There’s a lot of things that stop cities from growing, but if you don’t have water, you’re not going to grow,” Meier said.
Meier loves and misses Marion, he said.
“I wish there would have been a way for me to come back there,” he said. “I really like Central Park and also the aquatic center. My 9-year-old daughter always wants to have her birthday party there. The high school debate program was probably the best thing to prepare people for life.”