Marion commission hikes mill levy for library use

Success and greater use mean more expense for the Marion Library/Railroad Depot, Marion city commissioners agreed 3-0 at their Monday meeting.

So the library mill levy will jump from 4.554 mills to 8 mills next year.

Commissioner Larry McLain said the resulting more than $30,000 budget increase to more than $68,000 is exactly “what people should expect” for a division of the city that has doubled and tripled services and space in a year.

He said what he is hearing from the public is that they want even more service from the library with more hours open.

Mayor Eloise Mueller said she “didn’t want to go backward” on library service, but felt it “my duty” to at least question the increase.

Mueller asked librarian Janet Marler whether it was wise to be increasing budget, or should she rather be looking at ways to cut expenses.

Marler said she thought there would be a public outcry if services were cut any from what they are now. The library has gone from 35 to 48 hours open weekly with requests for more hours, she said.

Marler said the library employs two full-time and one part-time persons, and she already feels “embarrassed” under budget restrictions that help is being paid only $5.50 an hour.

City Administrator David Mayfield said the library is paying $3,180 for insurance and $7,600 for utilities that it didn’t pay out of budget before because its costs were hidden under general outlays for the city building, where it used to be housed.

To meet expenses, Mayfield noted, the library has had to draw from the general fund, which increases pressures on the rest of the city.

Development director Susan Cooper pointed out that with the library in the old depot, it has become a growing tourist attraction, and she would deem it unwise to do anything that would cut its hours and make it less accessible to the public.

Harvey Sanders, public works director, said the city crew has been flushing out fire hydrants for increased chemical distribution, and, with continuing pumping, all the water put into the system during the lake algae crisis should be out of it in two to three days.

Mayfield said, “We began drawing water from the reservoir Wednesday, July 2, after we were able to complete the installation of the activated carbon machines that KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) recommended.”

As a result of the effort to develop an alternate water source,”when we complete the installation of the electric pumps at the creek, we will be able to provide a raw water source to customers at a significant decrease in cost compared to treated water.

“Examples (of raw water use) are road construction, water for livestock, gardens, etc. This procedure will allow us to switch to our emergency backup water plan immediately if it would become necessary in the future.”

Mayfield said commissioners would need to develop a raw water rate under a system where most users would haul the water by truck. It never would be allowed to enter the treatment plant.

Mayfield said he, Cooper and Sanders are looking for grant money-while discussing the addition with engineers-that would be used to add ozone treatment to the water plant upgrade.

It might double the cost of the upgrade from $800,000 to as much as $1,600,000, he said, “but I hope that estimate’s high.”

Police Chief Michel Soyez announced that he is one of 28 lawmen accepted from among 152 applicants for chief schooling beginning later this month at the Kansas Law Enforcement Academy at Yoder. Marion police officers completing school there this week are Phillip Hartzfield and Josh Whitwell.

The commissioners approved the monthly utility billing tie out and paying warrants for $20,909.08.

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