McClain sworn in as Marion commissioner

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Larry McLain was sworn in to succeed Bud Pierce on the Marion City Commission Monday.

Mayor Eloise Mueller awarded Pierce a plaque for his six months of service as an appointee to the Commission, and gave him a Marion cup of candy and Marion commemorative plaque.

Librarian Janet Marler reported to the Commission that local donations for building the library/railroad rennovation project after a $500 donation Monday are at $148,600.

She said 750 bricks and 120 engraved plates to honor donors are on their way to the library.

Marler said Forrest Smith is completing an eight-year term on the library board, and she recommended Matt Newhouse to succeed him. The commissioners appointed Newhouse 3-0.

The library is planning a book sale of surplus items April 18, 19 and 20, but Marler said some items, such as National Geographics dating back to 1911, have been determined to be of little or no value.

Insurance costs to the city are going up another 20 percent following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, and City Manager Dennis Nichols said this will require the city to reduce expenditures approximately $10,000 in other areas to stay within budget.

This is made more difficult, he said, considering that state aid to the city likely will be reduced.

Casey Case of Case and Sons Insurance, who writes the city’s insurance through Employers Mutual Casualty Insurance Co., said there was already a “hard” insurance market developing before the World Trade Center attack, but rates for everything are going up as a result.

He explained that insurance companies cover themselves through reinsurance with larger companies which lost large amounts of money in the attacks, and are now trying to regain financially.

Nichols said a group with the city tried to find ways to reduce insurance costs through more self-insurance on lower value city properties, but instead found items that weren’t covered, such as sewer pump stations, that needed coverage.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to accept the insurance package even though total premium will be $62,773 compared to $51,999 in 2001.

Case said items such as lake dams that are vulnerable to terrorist attacks that could cause wide-spread damage are becoming more difficult to insure.

Harvey Sanders, utilities superintendent, reported that the heating boiler in the city building purchased in 1983 has developed a leak, and will need to be replaced.

Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, said final inspection of pond and ditch work at Batt Industrial Park has been approved, and grass has been seeded there too.

The city granted Doug Sharp and Roger Hannaford, developers for Country Club Heights, exemption from an ordinance that bans burning in order to burn excess overgrowth of grass and vegetation in areas where homes haven’t been built. The exemption also was granted to the developers last year, and comes with a hold harmless agreement to the city and charges for fire department time to be at the location.

Angela Lange as assistant city treasurer was the lone new city appointee as the commissioners also approved appointing Dan Baldwin as city attorney, Nichols as both city administrator and city clerk, Linda Holub as city treasurer and assistant city clerk, Lange also appointed as assistant city clerk, David Mayfield as police chief, and Bryson Mills as municipal judge.

The commissioners approved the February investment and collateral report with Nichols explaining that funds are being left in demand investment account due to continued low CD rates. They also approved the February financial statement.

The city is being pressed, along with other communities, to meet increasingly stringent state water quality standards, Nichols said, with compliance for some new standards that will require modifications due December, 2003.

Nichols said that for the time being, Marion is in better shape than many Kansas communities because it been updating its water plant while retaining funding capabilities.

Nichols said Rob Mahan, engineer with Bucher, Willis and Ratliff of Salina, will meet with the commisioners April 15 to propose modifications to meet water standards.

Nichols said technical skills required of water plant personnel will continue to go up thereby driving up salaries, and limiting the number of persons qualified.

He said Marion has chosen to hire and educate its own staff therefore making a significant investment in training.

Nichols predicted it may be necessary in the future for Marion to join with neighboring communities to build a large modern water plant possibly adjacent to Marion Reservoir.

He cited comments by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd saying that fresh water will be the biggest 21st Century environmental concern both in terms of quality and quantity.

The commissioners approved paying warrants for $36,816.49 and payroll for $23,273.86.

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