Marion council hears from ‘the toilet guy’

The Marion City Council heard from a resident Monday about an unusual yard fountain facing Main Street on the westside of town.

Steve Unruh, who spoke during the public forum portion of the meeting, said he wasn?t trying to make a statement other than he likes pink toilets.

?For those of you who already know me, I am the toilet guy,? he said. ?I am here because I understand some (people) are reading other things into it.?

At some point, he said, he plans to have a sink and bathtub to complete the fountain making it look ?a whole lot better than it does now.?

Mayor Mary Olson said she talked with a person not from Marion while she was working at the antique store, Barely Makin? It.

?She said she wondered what was going on down there.?

Unruh said he, too, has heard comments from people.

?Hopefully it will be looking better soon,? he said.

Olson said she appreciates what Unruh has done to clean up the yard and now it?s time to have it look nice, too.

Unruh said the reason he was there was to introduce himself.

?I will be dropping in now and then because if I don?t know what is going on, I have no right to complain,? he said.

Reports

Councilor Jerry Dieter questioned City Clerk Angela Lange about the number of billing inquiries logged in during the last half of August.

With 276 inquiries?more than half of the customer relation interactions of 516?Dieter asked what kind of questions people had.

?It would be interesting to categorize what those requests are for a month so we could see what is going on and give out some sort of information,? Dieter said.

Lange said typically the calls are more frequent near the end of the month.

?Becky?(Makovec, utility billing clerk) had calls on how much the bill was,? Lange said. ?We had one (person) who called five times (on the same day) who wanted to know his balance.?

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said people want to know how much their bill will be.

Dieter asked if it was last month?s bill.

?No, it?s for the ones going out before we even mail them,? Kjellin said.

Lange said the city also gets calls asking for phone numbers for every business in town.

?People will tell us they don?t know who to call, so they call the city office,? she said.

Dieter said it takes a lot of time to answer these type of calls, and takes away from more productive work.

?We have a phone system,? Lange said, ?but it can be too confusing for customers.?

She said Tiffany Jeffrey, court clerk and police department office manager, primarily deals with customers.

?With 80 percent (of the inquires) the same, we can attack the problem,? she said.

Handling complaints

In addition to his concern regarding billing inquiries, Dieter asked how city staff handle code complaints.

Lange said yard-related complaints go to Marty Fred?rickson, streets director and building inspector, who sends a letter to the homeowner and renter.

?They have 10 days to take care of it,? she said.

If they don?t, the city has a mowing contract and will bill the owner and tenant.

?They have 30 days to take care of (the bill),? she said.

Lange said almost anyone can register a complaint, whether a neighbor or someone walking by a property.

Lange said the city staff appreciates it when people call and complain.

She cited one case where a backyard was extremely overgrown, but by the time the city got someone to take care of it, it was a lot more work than if someone had called sooner.

Other business

In other business, the council:

— approved the Employee Assistance Program policy, 4-0. The goal of EAP is to help city employees experiencing personal or emotional difficulties that could affect job performance.

— appointed Olson as delegate to the League of Kansas Municipalities annual conference with Lange as the alternate.

— learned more about the county?s recycling program from Kjellin, who serves as a representative. At the last meeting, a recommendation went to the Marion County commissioners.

?They are going to modify the current transfer station to include recyclables on the east side with a ramp and a way of transferring over to a recycling trailer,? he said. ?Those modifications haven?t been made, and until they are, we are not getting active into any recycling because we have no place to put them.?

— reviewed information from Holter about a special meeting of the city?s zoning commission at 7 p.m. Sept. 10. The purpose of the meeting was to help the commission understand its role and responsibilities.

?It outlines interaction and responsibilities between the commission and how to serve the city consulate,? he said. ?(The zoning commission) will get a clear understanding as a support role.?

— learned the cost of private contract labor to work on the 12.5 kilovolt electrical lines in one area known as ?the hill? was ?substantially more? than the city had planned.

?The current efficiency of the electric system doesn?t warrant spending that amount of cash in that type of short timeframe. We looked into it and it doesn?t make good financial sense,? Kjellin said.

— heard from Kjellin about bid openings for the street improvement project beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. The bids, he said, will be tabulated and ready for consideration and approval at the council?s Sept. 16 meeting.

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