Marion City Council reviews comprehensive plan

Zoning issues and street and sidewalk problems were only a few of the planning recommendations made to Marion City Council members at their meeting Monday.

Nick Nickelsen, chairman of the planning commission, presented council members with an updated comprehensive plan for 2009.

?Zoning maps are outdated, which is impeding on our growth,? he said.

Nickelsen said the planning commission also believes the city should come up with a replacement schedule each year for sidewalks and streets.

?Another area to consider,? he said, ?would be improving the downtown area.?

Nickelsen said the planning commission would like to see the city hire a code-enforcement or building official within the next two years.

?These are just a few of the recommendations,? he said, ?but we would like to have some consideration.?

Mayor Mary Olson thanked Nickelsen and the other members of the commission for their time and review.

?This was a tremendous task,? she said of the project.

Olson asked council members if they had a date in mind for reviewing the plan again.

Nickelsen said the city needs to have the plan on record.

?State law requires an updated (comprehensive) plan every five years,? he said.

A copy of the document is available at city hall for public review.

In other business, the council gave the Marion Advancement Campaign permission to bring in an architect, at the organization?s own expense, to look at the city auditorium.

?We would like to make this a more functional property,? said Todd Heitschmidt, MAC chairman, ?and when we find out if the changes can be made, we will come back to the council.?

Courtney Geis, a Marion High School graduate, has created an architectural drawing of a renovated auditorium as part of her graduate work at Kansas State University.

The group would like to see if the proposed plan is even feasible before bringing any recommendations back to the council.

?This would be Step 1 of many,? Heitschmidt said, ?and a lot of details would need to be worked out (before a plan is presented to the public).

The council also made several decision related to the city?s 2009-10 proposed budget.

The council increased the city?s subsidy for the Chamber of Commerce and tourism in 2010 from $7,000 to $10,000.

David Mayfield, city administrator, said the city is running 10 percent under budget for employees this year and asked the council for a 6 percent increase for 2010, split equally between cost-of-living and merit raises.

Councilors proposed a 4 percent cost of living increase only.

Although the final budget will be presented to council at a later date, Mayfield said he had some preliminary budget questions, particularly about merit raises.

?I am not a big fan of merit raises,? said Councilor Gene Winkler. ?Last year everyone got the maximum amount, which means everyone had good employees.?

Winkler added that while he does think the city has good employees, he favored the cost-of-living raise only.

Councilor Steve Smith suggested step raises, which would reward years of employment rather than performance.

?We don?t want to eliminate evaluations,? Mayfield said.

Also in the proposed 2010 budget is $1,000 each for the city?s housing authority and the Communities in Schools program. This is the same amount that was requested last year.

Linda Ogden, CIS director, attended the meeting in case the councilors had questions on how the taxpayers? money was being spent.

?This is a proactive group in building safe, healthy communities and families,? she said. ?The $1,000 the city allocates (for CIS) is money well spent.?

The councilors approved a $17,000 allocation to the city?s recreation commission in the 2010 budget, the same as for 2009.

In other action, the council:

— approved a 65,000-pound weight limit for trucks traveling on Eisenhower and Cedar streets.

?This is the same weight limit the county has on their roads,? Mayfield said. ?Vehicles that make regularly scheduled deliveries, such as state, county or city trucks, would be exempt from the ordinance.?

— changed the date for the next council meeting from Monday, July 27, to Thursday, July 30.

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