Lake residents to pay 48 percent more for Marion water

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Marion County Lake residents are about to pay 48 percent more for water from the City of Marion.

Dan Crumrine asked why at Monday’s Marion City Commission meeting, and apparently was satisfied with the answer he received.

City Administrator Dennis Nichols replied to Crumrine, who is chairman of Water Improvement District No. 2, that it is due to the oversight of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the increased requirements being put on city water departments.

“It’s really a regulatory situation,” he said.

Nichols said the city has had to comply with improved water-plant facilities, better chemical treatments, and higher pay scale for higher educated certified personnel.

Harvey Sanders, utilities superintendent, said the outlook for state controls is that they will become even stricter.

Commissioner Jim Crofoot said he recalled that when the lake first signed the water contract, figures were somewhat “pulled out of the air,” but seemed fair. Now the city is more aware of its costs, he said.

The contract originally limited the lake to 750,000 gallons a day with usage now varying from 500,000 to 650,000 gallons. Nichols and Sanders verified the city probably will have no problem supplying more than that to meet growth demands because of improvements such as the new water plant clear well, and clearing lines to take more water from Marion Reservoir.

After a 10-minute executive session at the close of the meeting, commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize City Attorney Dan Baldwin to file suit against residents at 117 S. Billings for a zoning violation. Baldwin said the suit would involve parking of a travel trailer.

Nichols outlined a city building-condemnation ordinance adapted in 1999 that attempted to gain public support for the city by requiring a petition from five residents regarding a structure before action is taken.

The public officer, Kermit Dirksen, was to initiate action when a structure was an obvious threat to human life.

Nichols said it was thought the ordinance would eliminate costly frivolous complaints.

In discussions, Dirksen said current laws are adequate for enforcement, but he does find a lack of cooperation and willingness to participate sometimes among citizens.

Mayor Eloise Mueller said she hoped residents would learn to use the law “instead of raging about their neighbor” in such cases, and that the people would respond to efforts to beautify Marion.

Mueller supported a suggestion in strategic-planning objectives put together by Nichols that would eliminate city trash pick-up in favor of contracting for private trash hauling by the end of the year.

Nichols said the proposal would coincide with the county-wide assessment for waste disposal through the transfer station the first of the year, would eliminate city problems of keeping employees for the refuse truck, and eliminate the need for the city to replace a nearly $100,000 truck in the next two years.

Marty Fredrickson, street superintendent, said a private service would encourage curbside recycling.

Commissioner Larry McLain said one local resident would be ready to acquire equipment to go into trash hauling. He thought problems could be solved if the county commissioners would reopen the old landfill southwest of Marion.

The other four elements of the strategic plan included: economic development through business recruitment and stable growth; water upgrades to KDHE standards by December 2003; completion of the 7,200-volt, 12.5 electric line loop around the city by the end of 2007; and resurfacing Eisenhower Street by Dec. 31, 2005.

Nichols and Fredrickson said Eisenhower would be curbed and guttered from Main to Kellison and have storm sewers added to Denver. They said money would need to be set aside for the project and not diverted to other streets.

Sanders said the new electric line boosts power capacity while lowering the amperage that increases cost resulting in greater efficiency.

Nichols gave commissioners a booklet outlining the 2003 budget for them to prioritize capital expenditures with $55,000 available and department head requests of $148,500.

Cost-saving practices by some department heads were reviewed, such as Police Chief David Mayfield’s policy of buying used highway patrol or government security cars at half the price of buying and equipping the average $26,000 new car-and then putting officers in charge of their own squad cars with a strict maintenance program.

Mayfield said personal charge of a car made officers more readily available for emergencies.

Fredrickson said the city has been following an aggressive program for spraying insecticide and treating puddles for larvae to control mosquitoes after the recent wet season.

He said completion of new water and sewer lines on the Hill is resulting in fewer calls for repairs.

Commissioners and staff discussed making more spacious and efficient working areas for employees, and including the Chamber of Commerce office in the city building after the library has been moved to the depot.

Nichols said a better reception area for Development Director Susan Cooper should help in recruiting industries for Marion.

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