Remodeling improves safety at city building

Mayor objects to work being done without council approval

Staff writer

The City of Marion is making improvements at City Hall, putting up sheetrock partitions and doors to separate the front office area from other offices.

City Clerk Angela Lange is getting an office and Economic Development Director Roger Holter is getting walls put up around his office space.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the primary reason for the partitions is for employee safety. In the case of an enraged customer, Treasurer Becky Makovec and Tiffany Jeffrey are instructed to go behind their desks and into Lange’s new office. If the opportunity presents itself, they can go through the city council room out the back door. Kjellin said the only city office with a door previously was his own.

“Tiffany and Becky,” City Administrator Doug Kjellin said. “They’re on the front lines.”

Lange’s office also provides an extra layer of security for sensitive billing information. Customer information will be sealed in a locked cabinet inside of the locked office door.

“It’s nice to protect all employees and customers,” Makovec said.

However, Makovec only wanted the office changes to go so far. She did not want to have glass separating her from customers.

“I want people to feel welcome,” she said. “Everybody that comes in here are people we deal with on a regular basis.”

In the last 14 years, there has only been one situation where the office staff had to call the police, Makovec said.

“People might argue that this is unnecessary,” Kjellin said. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Kjellin said he acted under his budgeted authority to start construction. He said the walls and office would cost about $3,500. He said the maximum the city could spend, within the city hall improvement budget, without consulting the city council is $7,000. Other payments allowable under the city hall improvement budget are for maintenance. Both the city hall and community center roofs are scheduled for repairs at some point this summer.

Mayor Mary Olson was upset the council was not informed of the construction plans before Monday’s city council meeting.

“Every bit of government decision should be made within those four walls,” she said referring to the council room.

However, she did say the safety precautions are necessary.

“I’ve been wanting this safety issue to be taken care of for five years,” she said.

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