Written by Jerry Engler Tuesday, 10 April 2007 16:22There seemed to be a change in tone at the Marion City Council meeting Monday almost as soon as outgoing Mayor Martin Tice turned over the gavel to newly elected Mayor Mary Olson.
Olson easily tabled matters the council normally passes unchallenged.
For instance, when it came to reappointing City Administraor David Mayfield, City Clerk Angela Lange, Assistant City Clerk and City Treasurer Beck Makovec, Chief of Police Michel Soyez, Fire Chief Mike Regnier, City Attorney Dan Baldwin and Municipal Judge Bryson Mills, Olson called a 15-minute executive session for personnel. Upon her request, the council voted 5-0 to table the reappointments to give her time to study them.
Following that, Councilor Bill Holdeman asked Mayfield if he had a contract with the city. When Mayfield said he did, Holdeman asked that a copy of it be placed in each council member’s and the mayor’s packets for next meeting.
Casey Case of Case Insurance reviewed the city’s policy renewal, which he said was down $8,000 in premium from last year due to the city’s safety efforts resulting in fewer workman’s compensation and vehicle accident cases.
Olson asked if the city’s liability insurance was adequate.
Case replied that it carries ceilings of $1 million per occurence and $2 million aggregate.
Bud Hannaford reported for the cemetery board that new carpeting and paneling has been completed at the cemetery reception hall. He said there have been many requests from out-of-town persons asking for photographs of graves or that trees be planted at graves.
Regnier reported his department has had 16 fire runs this year, none of them major fires, and that the new fire truck has run well.
Councilor Jerry Kline said the city owes its gratitude to the volunteer firemen who Regnier said number 18 now.
The council voted 5-0 to accept a financial advisory proposal presented by Rick Enze of Cooper Malone McClain, Inc., that costs the city nothing unless under its help a bond election or project is completed.
Enze said his company can help a city analyze its bond options for projects after evaluating its current valuation, taxes needed and bond amount possible.
Steve Jost said he was invited to the meeting after an inquiry from Williams as to whether he would sell land he owns on West Main next to Markley Service for a parking area for semi-trucks requested by drivers who live in the city.
Jost said he would sell the property for $10,000.
Holdeman at first moved to buy the property to benefit the city’s truck drivers, but Kline interjected that he would like to hold off to study the issue.
Darwin Markley was asked about water problems with the lot, and he replied that it only carried surface rain water without ponding.
Williams said she had an individual who would be willing to purchase lots 28 and 29 in the rear portion of the light industrial park for parking the semi-trucks. She said the person would fence it, and make it gated with keys given to truckers who rented space.
She said the person also would allow parking of vehicles like RVs.
Kline said since the area is zoned light industrial that Williams should be allowed to continue talking to the individual about a purchase at $5,000 per lot.
Councilor Gene Winkler asked if there would be room for trucks to make turns if all drivers showed up at the same time.
Baldwin said he would be concerned about the parking becoming a “hobby lot” for everything from farm tractors to mowers.
Charles Kannady, Marion real estate broker, speaking from among the crowd of about 30 persons attending, warned that such a lot could cause problems with substances subject to clean-up orders from the Environmental Protection Agency such as manure from cattle trucks.
Problems with ammonia and propane trailers also were discussed.
Rob Hartley, truck driver, doubted the willingness of fellow truck drivers to pay rent on parking space “in their own home town out of their own pockets” when it cuts into their incomes from out-of-town jobs that already help build the city.
The council voted 3-2 to allow Williams to proceed with discussing the sale, Olson and Councilor Stacey Collett against.
The council asked Mel Flaming, contractor on the spec building at the industrial park that could house a telephone calling center, to change concrete specifications for the structures floor from mesh reinforcement to 5-inch thick concrete with rebar reinforcement for a $31,950 total cost.
Davy Hett of Hett Construction had advised that such a floor could handle heavier industrial uses if the phone center ever moved out.
Winkler said quotes in a newspaper other than The Free Press last week about him criticizing Hett and his brother, Eldon, for not doing their jobs on the project were incorrect. He said he never said such a thing.
Williams handed out letters for council members to sign to congressmen in support of funding to upgrade Cottonwood Point at Marion Reservoir. She said the reservoir is one of the highest economic resources in the county.
The council voted 5-0 to add the mayor and Lange to financial signature cards for the city.
Mayfield reported that he met with Marion County Road and Bridge Director Jim Herzet to discuss the city and the county getting bids from one contractor at the same time to get cheaper prices, although they will each have a contract. He will be meeting with the firm Kirkham and Michael, county engineering consultants, to discuss bidding process.
Mayfield said he and Lange will protest county appraisal of lots the city sells in industrial parks at 7 a.m. Wednesday. He said in some cases the lots went up as much as 260 percent on the current valuation. City properties used for civic purposes, such as the city building, are exempt from property tax, he said.
Kline asked Public Works Director Harvey Sanders to take a look at the fence around the city lagoons, which he said “looked terrible.”
Street Superintendent Marty Frederickson said a renovation of heating and air conditioning at the city museum are completed.
Williams said a group of high school students and their advisers are looking at buildings in Marion potentially to turn one of them into a youth center similar to The Hub in Peabody.
At the same time, Williams said bowling alley owner Bill Sherbert has reported he will put up a 40x80 arcade building separated from the bowling alley and sports bar, and mainly for youth.
She said the sales area at the bowling alley also will be expanded since selling custom balls has become a major business for the alley.
She said she has arranged with KWCH television for a spot much reduced in price to $300 for promoting Marion.