Marion commission approves bond for sewer improvements

Local control of solid waste disposal systems seems to be the thrust of concern in local planning, the Marion City Commission was told at its Monday meeting.

The commission also voted 3-0 to approve a $262,000 bond issue for sewer improvements at a current rate of 4.63 percent with payments from $25,000 to $26,000 annually over 15 years to come from an increase in home electrical rates.

Jack Regnier, speaking as the local member on the oversight committee of the Central Kansas Regional Solid Waste Authority, said the control concern comes partly from McPherson County, where an earlier private program wasn’t run right, and the county had to step in.

McPherson, Marion, Harvey and Dickinson counties are partners in the Authority.

Regnier said the committee is conducting a review of the Authority to fine-tune wording of its goals to help prevent things that could go wrong. He said anybody in the area who wants to do something on solid waste will have to go before the Authority.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols clarified that each county is the ultimate authority on waste management within its borders, and the Authority only has what powers the counties choose to grant it.

Regnier said Marion County is the largest of the counties in square mileage, but the smallest in population. The commissioners asked Regnier to report back regularly.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the reappointment of Charles Heerey to a four-year term on the Marion Housing Authority.

Nichols said the bond money would enable replacement of three blocks of concrete sewer lines, built before it was realized that sewer gas would deteriorate concrete, and seven blocks of water mains that leak and have build-ups that leach out chlorine residual.

The sewer lines include the north 300 block of alley between Roosevelt and Freeborn, the north 200 block of alley between Freeborn and Coble, and the north 100 block of alley between Freeborn and Coble, he said.

The water main is located from the 100 block of North Lincoln and four blocks north, one block east on Hudson and two blocks north on Cedar, he said.

Nichols said the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment is requiring the situation be taken care of as soon as possible to keep chlorine residuals at satisfactory levels, done this summer by running a fire hydrant.

Nichols said residential electrical rates haven’t been adjusted since 1985 when they were reduced from $.095 to $.085 per KWH while commercial electric rates were adjusted in 1999 for bond funds, and water was adjusted in 1999.

The approved electric rate change would change the base rate of $6 for zero consumption to 100 KWH and $0.085 per KWH used thereafter to $5 for zero consumption plus $0.085 per KWH from there up, giving a flat monthly increase of $7.50, very comparable to both Hillsboro and Herington, he said.

Nichols noted that natural gas prices have dropped 60 percent for November compared to the per-unit cost in January.

Susan Cooper, development director, said the public hearing for the comprehensive plan would be at 8 p.m., Dec. 17, with special emphasis on environmental preservation and strategies.

Nichols said Rocky Hett reported he has been billed for city property taxes on the Martin Marietta Quarry land owned by his family contrary to reports that the land hasn’t been taxed by the city because of the lawsuit contending its annexation was illegal.

Diane Costello questioned whether the city should be collecting sales tax from the quarry, too.

City Attorney Dan Baldwin said the city isn’t attempting to collect any taxes there until the lawsuit is settled.

Costello also questioned whether any consideration had been given to her suggestion from two weeks ago that trash collection be reduced from twice weekly to once.

Nichols said he agreed that he had never seen another city with twice-weekly collection, but he advised that the commission wait on any changes until they could see what the final negotiation with KC Development at the county level looked like.

He said the proposal might be adapted to help save money or encourage recycling.

Commissioner Bud Pierce said 30 years ago the twice-weekly service, along with furnishing trash bags and curb and alley service, had been recommended by other cities to enhance cleanliness.

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