In three separate moves, Marion City Council approved rate increases to trash pickup, sewage disposal, and cemetery costs.
The utility increases were incremental, with base prices for sewer and refuse pickup going from $17.50 to $20 a month and $8.50 to $10 a month, respectively.
Additionally, wastewater use went from $1.50 to $1.75 per 1,000 gallons. City administrator Roger Holter said the average water use is 3,000 gallons, meaning an average increase of $3.25 per month.
Holter said that while the board had hoped to use its utility revenues to build the city’s cash reserves, agreeable weather and citizen conservation efforts have caused utility revenues to come in about $500,000 below initial projections.
“We budgeted for $2.586 million from electrical, but we’re projected now for $2.068, so revenues are down,” he said.
Holter said the increases should help cover costs of a new trash truck in 2017, as well as a project to comply with ammonia regulations per new Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines.
Council approved larger increases to cemetery services, per cemetery board recommendations.
Grave openings increased from $200 to $350, burial lots increased from $200 to $300, and holiday and weekend fees increased from $100 to $150.
These recommendations were relayed by Holter at a previous council meeting, but council member Melissa Mermis said she felt uncomfortable approving rate increases with no one from the cemetery board in attendance.
Roger Hannaford was in attendance to present the recommendations for approval.
“We will maintain those graves from here to eternity, and there are some costs out there for the work we do to maintain them,” Hannaford said. “We thought we need to be in line with what it costs to do the work.”
Hannaford said the prices are “fair” and “comparable” to cemetery costs in neighboring communities.
In other business:
- Council scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 7 regarding the condemnation of 118 S. Freeborn St. Robert Crawford voiced displeasure during public forum with the lack of action taken on a neighboring property on Walnut St. Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said city staff would “go through our process that has to be followed” with the property.
- A mayoral proclamation was issued honoring former city council member Bill Holdeman, who died this past week. Holdeman was praised for his many legislative reforms, as well as “motioning to adjourn 90 percent of all council meetings held during his tenure.” The proclamation continued, “your leadership will be missed.”
- Holter said there are 16 applicants for the parks and recreation board. Recommendations for the nine-member board will be made to city council Nov. 9.