The Marion City Council tabled discussion on two issues presented Oct. 15 by City Administrator Doug Kjellin dealing with fee schedule changes and placing equipment on the bidding website Purple Wave.
Councilor Todd Heitschmidt said he thought the research fee of $20 per hour was too low.
“I think we need to raise (the amount),” he said. “I would recommend something closer to $50 per hour with a minimum of $25. We are paying (Kjellin) and this research is taking away everything you are doing to help a specific individual.”
In addition, Heitschmidt said he believes the increase is not an abuse, but it is abusing all the taxpayers’ time for Kjellin or another staff member to do extensive research for one person or one special interest group.
As the Freedom of Information Act officer, Kjellin said, the city has a form that is filled out and he must respond within three business days.
“If we can,” Kjellin said, “we will give someone the number of pages and how much it will cost.”
Mayor Mary Olson made a motion to approve the fees as originally presented, without an increase for research.
After the motion failed for lack of a second, Olson asked council members if they wanted Kjellin to do more research.
Councilor Jerry Dieter asked Kjellin what other cities comparable to Marion are doing.
Heitschmidt said he was opposed to a motion to research what other towns are doing.
“I don’t think we need to find out what other cities are doing if we can’t make a decision tonight,” he said.
When other council members suggested tabling the matter for two weeks, Heitschmidt said if Kjellin is going to do more research, he had some guidelines.
“I want at least five cities and what they charge for research fees,” he said. “I want those fees broken down on whether it is general research or FOIA. Also, please check with (Marion) county on what they charge for FOIA.”
Purple Wave debate
Kjellin said three city departments have items they want to remove from inventory.
“We are planning a Purple Wave auction,” he said. “The equipment has been itemized by police, street, water and electric and general administration departments.”
Councilor Jerry Kline asked Kjellin if the city no longer needs the items.
“We have not used this equipment in the last three to four years, or the repair costs exceed the value of the item,” he said.
Heitschmidt said his main concern was whether the items listed would be back on capital expenditures.
The dump truck was the only piece of equipment that will be replaced within the next two or three years, Kjellin said.
“We replaced all of the mowers with new Hustlers for the ball park, streets and alleys,” he said.
Dieter asked if the dump truck still ran and, Kjellin said it did.
Olson said she had reservations as to whether the items all need to be disposed of through Purple Wave.
“I would like to see this material,” she said.
Dieter agreed with Olson.
“Some of this stuff might be of interest to local people,” he said. “Is there any way local people can walk through and see the items?”
Kjellin said that Purple Wave is a local, state and national type of Internet bidding site.
Dieter said that while he understands that, some people don’t know about Purple Wave.
“I think we need to take one day and let local people walk through and put a price on (items) and they either take it or don’t—then put it on Purple Wave,” Dieter said.
Kjellin told Dieter that he doesn’t know where to price the items.
“Or maybe you could have an auction,” Dieter said. “I just think this is property and equipment bought by the city and paid for by the local taxpayers and they should have a chance to purchase it if they want to.”
Olson said she agreed.
Kjellin said he would look into it after clean-up week concludes.