Marion commissioners raise water rates for county lake residents

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion City Commission Monday approved increasing water rates to Marion County Lake by a third in view of the approximate $400,000 the city will have to spend to upgrade its water plant to meet state requirements.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols said the lake’s Marion County Improvement District No. 2 purchased 6.547 million gallons of water in 2001 for $10,475-which would have been increased to $15,516 under the new rate.

The city is entitled to rate increases if expenses go up under its contract with the district, and Nichols said cumulative costs have increased 48.2 percent since the contract began in 1994.

The increase is 77 cents per thousand gallons, from $1.60 per 1,000 gallons to $2.37 per 1,000 gallons.

Because the city has grown to more than 2,000 persons, it has been entitled to a fifth person on the Marion County Economic Development Council. The commissioners appointed Laura Legg, manager of Ampride stores in Marion and Hillsboro, to the position.

Legg formerly represented the City of Tampa on the council, but recently has moved to Marion.

Other appointees to MCEDC from Marion are Nichols, Susan Cooper, Margo Yates and Gene Winkler.

The commissioners approved a resolution establishing a separate fund for the Recreation Commission to facilitate its ability to carry over excess funds annually. Nichols said the fund would be used for revenues and expenses for activities and programs with the city still funding seperately for baseball complex physical facilities.

Librarian Janet Marler and Nichols commended Sunflower, the contracting company on the library/ depot project, for volunteering to help transport books from the old library, and in voluntarily rebuilding damaged historical features of the building such as doors that couldn’t be salvaged.

Marler said Saturday will be the library’s last day open before the move, and the new facility won’t be open until July 15. She is asking public help to have all books checked in by Saturday.

The commissioners approved a resolution to allow library funding to increase from the current 4 mills established in 1983 to a maximum 8 mills if needed at any time with about 6.5 mills expected for 2003.

Nichols said the increase was needed because the increased building size will mean higher utilities and insurance, and, until this year, the city had never insured the library contents.

The library is expected to operate for longer hours, and Marler’s employment had been increased from part-time to full-time, making her elegible for employee benefits such as health insurance, he said.

Mayor Eloise Mueller suggested the tree dump burn site be kept open a uniform 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays instead of 1p.m. to 4 p.m. some days, and that Saturday hours continue from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.. Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent was directed by commissioners to implement the hours.

Burn site revenue for the year-to-date was reported at $1,246 with attendant labor expense at $2,060.

Cooper, who is development director, said Bob Brooks, assisted living developer, has investors committed for most funding, but needs one more. She said he expects to close on land purchase, and announce new plans in about two weeks.

Fredrickson said contractors laying replacement sewer line have been slowed by rock, and have discovered 1920s hand-dug lines laid to line-width in the rock.

The commissioners approved paying warrants for $188,388.61 and payroll for $26,130.76.

Largest amounts were to Westar for electricity for $62,475.89, Mies Construction for sewer line replacement for $59,250, Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd for $8,123, and Central National Bank for airport hanger lease/purchase for $23,142.63.

Nichols said with industrial park, sewer and water line projects and library nearing completion, warrants should return to more customary levels.

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