Resident adds to criticism of Marion mayor, commission

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Diana Costello called Mayor Eloise Mueller to task Monday at the Marion City Commission meeting for keeping the option open to seek a regional landfill despite the advisory election vote against seeking one.

Costello continued a questioning of commission decisions following the election by landfill opponents that began last week.

Mueller repeated earlier statements that she didn’t want to close off possible opportunities for the city, and that the city isn’t actively seeking a landfill now.

Costello charged that the city doesn’t have the manpower or the expertise to be seeking a regional landfill.

She asked Mueller if earlier statements saying she trusted fully in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to regulate a landfill were correct.

Mueller said, “I completely trust KDHE.”

Costello asked why Mueller didn’t trust KDHE then when its representatives said at a public meeting in Marion that the city has no legal authority to seek a landfill, that it’s a function of the county and the four-county regional solid-waste authority of which Marion County is a member.

Mueller said she recognized that a first step in seeking a regional landfill would be for Marion County to get out of the four-county plan and support the city in seeking one.

Costello said she was bothered that the commission still had the motion open to seek a landfill. She criticized Mueller for not respecting the experience of persons who had worked for the four-county plan when she didn’t have the experience herself.

Mueller said, “Well, I’m not speaking just for myself.”

Costello said, “I think you are most of the time.”

Mueller asked Commissioner Bud Pierce if he had anything to say.

Pierce said he had read the four-county plan, and he wasn’t pleased with it because it would put a mill levy on all property in the county to pay KC Development for trash disposal.

Pierce said the county indicated it might also put an assessment against all the apartments, including senior-citizen housing in the county for trash disposal.

Costello said, “So what?”

She said she had once lived in an apartment and had to pay for trash disposal, too, as part of the normal cost of living.

Pierce said approving a cost like that for residents at a place like Hilltop Manor when there are alternatives available would have to come upon the authority of “somebody besides me.”

Mueller said, “What’s wrong with us continuing to keep our cards on the table for now?”

Costello said, “You’re trying to bring a landfill in the back door.”

Mueller said, “That’s your opinion.”

Costello said, “That continues to be a statement you make while the City of Marion has no authority to negotiate.”

Mueller repeated, “I think we need to keep our options open.”

Costello said, “So you don’t care about the four-county plan or what KDHE says?”

Mueller said, “Yes, I do. But, we’re not closing any doors.”

In other business, Development Director Susan Cooper told commissioners that a new ordinance was needed to raise conditional-use permit application fees and plat fees because existing fees haven’t quite been meeting costs.

She said the conditional-use applicant has been paying $50 when actual costs have avearaged nearly $70. She suggested fees ought to at least cover costs.

Commissioners concurred passing a new ordinance 3-0 that raised the conditional use application fee to $75 and the plat application to $100 plus $5 a lot within the plat.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols said he and Utilities Superintendent Harvey Sanders have been meeting with engineering consultants to make sure the city meets more stringent state-required water satandards that will be in place by 2004.

Cooper said she recorded a deed that morning on ground given by Marion County on the south end of the courthouse grounds to the city for construction of a street by the library after the county commission approved the gift. The county also would benefit with curbing and access, from the county parking area to the street.

The commission approved 3-0 giving Rocky Hett permission to burn crop stubble under the supervision of Fire Chief Thad Meierhoff on land which includes the Martin Marietta Quarry that was annexed for purposes of seeking to site a regional landfill.

Cooper said she and Meierhoff are continuing to develop a grant application for funds to purchase another fire truck.

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