Marion council debates employee ‘check-ins’ for meetings

Councilman Bill Holdeman opened a session he requested be on the Marion City Council agenda Monday by saying he had never been “anywhere like this where employees tell us what they are going to do.”

Holdeman explained that he would like to see employees more in the mode of asking the Council before attending schools or meetings as well as providing some explanation of what the meetings will cost the city.

Councilman Jerry Kline said that thinking of himself in his own job, he doesn’t always ask his employer before he goes to routine meetings. Kline said employees have certain things scheduled every year, and that money for those things is set by the budget.

Kline said meetings such as annual conventions should be attended by employees because it pays the city for its workers to receive information from these events.

Councilman Stacey Collett said he was in agreement with Holdeman, “especially where overnight stays are involved.”

Holdeman said there ought to be a statement on what it costs to attend.

Councilman Gene Winkler said Holdeman’s suggestion could put the Council in the position of “micro-managing” employees when budgeting for such items and the oversight of a city manager hired for the purpose should take care of it. Winkler said using an extra 20 minutes of the Council’s time for such matters is wasting time.

Upon Holdeman’s motion to require employees to ask permission to attend meetings, he and Collett voted in favor, with Tice, Kline and Winkler against.

The Council bypassed Holdeman’s request for an examination of whether relatives of employees should be employed by the City with an explanation that a written nepotism policy already exists.

City Attorney Dan Baldwin told councilmen that participation agreements for three banks in town, led by Tampa State Bank, now exist on a lease-purchase spec building in the industrial park to be built by Flaming Buildings. He recommended no Council action Monday to give the banks time to approve the agreements.

Following discussion of how to give employees a Christmas bonus of up to $100 already budgeted, councilmen voted 4 to 1 to give workers jackets worth up to $60 each. Kline dissented in favor of giving employees $100 cash with the city picking up the extra tax withholding necessary.

Councilmen voted to vacate a nonexistent but platted Spruce Street on the west side of the Marion County Transfer Station between Washington and Santa Fe to allow the county to build a fence around the station. Adjoining property owners would receive land back to middle of the 66-foot wide street.

The councilmen discussed what to do with the remaining $6,000 in a city business grant program in light of the news that a burglary resulted in such high loss to a smoke store downtown that it has to close with a resulting loss in grant money.

Economic Development Director Jami Williams said replacement of the grant program with a forgiveable loan program has been suggested to insure that a business stays at least one year.

Tice suggested the Council could be more selective as to which businesses are chosen.

Williams said the $6,000 could be used up followed by an end to the program.

Councilmen approved lease agreements for placement of Marion signs with landowners Scott and Laura Miesse and William and Patricia Thomas.

They approved City Manager David Mayfield preparing bids for contractors in January for street improvements with the expectation that bids, including oil prices fixed in, would be returned in February for possible start of construction in April.

Kline said it is a good time of year to seek contractors because of their anxieties in getting work when warm weather comes.

Mayfield said the City needs to set new policy on providing benefits to employees such as using cellular phones or taking a vehicle home from work in case of audit by the Internal Revenue Service that might call them into question.

Street Superintendent Marty Williams said he has been notified by Union Pacific that the railroad won’t be doing crossing improvements in the town that would have required street closings.

The councilmen approved paying $120,228.21 in warrants and $24,222.01 in salaries.

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