Marion council opts for non-local carrier

The Marion City Council at its March 16 meeting changed its insurance carrier for workers? compensation, discussed a new source of revenue and reached agreement on renovating substandard properties.

City Administrator Roger Holter, along with safety committee members, recommended changing from EMC, represented by Case & Son, to Kansas Municipality Insurance Trust.

KMIT?s premium for workers? comp was $32,725, which was $5,350 lower than the EMC bid.

Holter and the committee also recommended renewing the city?s general liability, vehicle, property and data crime insurance coverage with EMC for $80,778.

Holter said anytime a different set of eyes and ears looks at an operation objectively and offer guidance, it is seen as a big advantage.

Prior to Monday?s approval of KMIT?for workers? comp, Case & Son Insurance had been the city?s insurance representative for 26 years.

Council members were told the cost of insurance from 2007 to 2016 rose by 41 percent, but the replacement value on buildings generally went down.

The total premiums from 2007 to 2016 were $1,039,218 with claims paid out from 2010 to 2015 of $81,196.

Don Osenbaugh, KMIT pool administrator, spoke to the council about the pool and how it works.

?We are a well-established, mature organization providing workers? compensation only to cities in Kansas,? he said. ?We work for cities and our 11-member board is comprised of city officials from across the state.?

KMIT?s mission is to provide the best service and be as close to the low bid as possible, he added.

Holter said that KMIT offers on-site training for front-line staff with an account agent assigned directly to the city of Marion. With the current provider, Holter said, a claim is called in to a call center and based on the next agent available.

Revenue source

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt, along with other council members, asked for more information about the administration?s plan to provide specialized services to other towns on a non-emergency basis.

In an article regarding the city of Winfield, Holter said specialized electrical work is outside the city limits.

?Because of this specialized service, they are able to market without competing with any local company,? he said.?This recent transaction resulted in a $75,000 revenue stream for installation of setting 95 poles.?

In Marion, Holter said, the municipal crews have had the opportunity to help with renewable energy installation of a solar field at Spur Ridge Vet Hospital.

?Again, this is a specialized service, and they could not find a contractor in this area to utilize.?

Holter asked if it is permittable to revise the current policy and allow city crews to work outside the corporate city limits.

?Our city policy doesn?t allow our crews to work outside city limits,? he said, ?however we have received requests from Eagle Communications, Rural Electric Cooperative Association and, at times, Westar has wondered if we could help in the county.?

Holter said it is not the city?s intent to compete with anybody, and crews are covered by insurance beyond city limits.

Councilor Chad Adkins said he thought it was another revenue stream option.

?Instead of waiting 10 days to set poles,? Adkins said, ?we could set the poles, they could send the check and we move on.?

Councilor Jerry Kline asked how the city would know what to charge.

Holter said there is a FEMA rate?the maximum that can be charged, time, materials and labor.

?In the event of a natural disaster, we have to charge FEMA back with the rates already established,? Holter said.

Heitschmidt said a policy is in place that could be amended.

?I would direct the administration to provide us with a changed policy for use of crews outside the city limits of Marion,? he said.

Councilor Jerry Dieter said there needs to be a limit on how far crews go.

?I don?t think we want them out all week,? he said.

Dilapidated structure

After the March 2 council meeting, Heitschmidt had expressed disapproval of how resident and property owner Bradford Harrington handled his neglected structures. At this meeting, Harrington expressed his disappointment with Heit?schmidt.

?I voted for you for mayor, but won?t do it again,? Harrington said. ?You may think that publicly humiliating me as a property owner and taxpayer of this city and county is going to help solve the city?s problem with substandard housing, but what you have done, using this tactic, is stir up (people).?

Following his remarks, Harrington asked Holter to explain what actions he plans to take.

Holter replied: ?As of this afternoon (two hours before council meeting), Mr. Harrington brought in his plan for the property.?

The two-story home on lots 9, 10, 11 and 12 were sold to Brian Grosse, and his wife.

?Brian had previously indicated his plan is to rehabilitate the home rather than demise the home,? Holter said.

Although Holter did try to invite Grosse to the council meeting, he was unsuccessful.

Harrington plans to retain ownership of lot 8. He also submitted a plan to tear off the north room of the small house on east side, formally known as 126 Arbor.

?(Harrington) plans to put doors where needed to secure the home and scrape and paint outside of the house,? Holter said. ?There are children in the neighborhood and while they shouldn?t be trespassing, an open door was always a temptation to me as small child.?

The major concern regarding no doors, he added, is because there are propane cannisters sitting inside the facility, which is considered hazardous.

?I will take care of that,? Harrington said.

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