Marion building permits held steady in 2009 at around $930,075

Despite the sluggish economy, the estimated value of $930,075 for building permits in the city of Marion was comparable to previous years, according to information presented at the Marion City Council meeting Monday, Jan. 25.

?The value in 2009 was lower than in 2008 because of the school projects and several homes being constructed that year,? said Marty Fredrickson, building inspector, director of streets and zoning administration. ?Otherwise, the estimated values of the permits are normally around $800,000 to $900,000.?

Fredrickson also talked about changes in how building permits are calculated.

In early 2009, he said, the permit fees were changed, making an electrical and plumbing permit $25 each.

?Construction fees are now based on the square footage of the foundation,? he said, ?which is 10 cents for residential and 15 cents for commercial.

In 2009, Fredrickson said 22 building permits and 14 applications were issued.

?A new house or commercial building would have a construction, electrical and plumbing permits,? he said. ?Some of the applications did have three permits on the page, which might look like a discrepancy, but it?s not.?

In total, Fredrickson said the city had four plumbing permits, six electrical and three commercial. The permits were for three residential homes, four accessory buildings, a commercial remodel and one carport.

In comparison, 21 permits were issued in 2008, 39 in 2007, 31 in 2006 and 29 in 2005.

Paul Brooker Trust Fund

Fredrickson said he also completed specs for replacing some sidewalks in Central Park. By consensus, the council decided that letters will be mailed to companies that can do the work, and a bid notice will be placed in area newspapers.

The bid will call for some areas to have thicker concrete to handle heavier equipment driving over it when repairs or other needs arise.

When councilor Bill Holdeman asked if rebar wouldn?t be better than mesh to reinforce the concrete, Fredrickson said the contractor recommended the concrete reinforcement mesh.

Councilors approved using $50,000 received from the Paul Brooker Trust Fund for the sidewalks and other work.

Replacing sidewalks was one of many improvements discussed in mid-October when the council heard a presentation from Todd Heitschmidt, chairman of the Park Improvement Committee.

The other improvements include moving above-ground electrical lines on three existing poles to underground inside the park.

Mayor Mary Olson also asked about fixing some of the sidewalk at Liberty Park (Second and Main streets).

?I fell in a hole the other day,? she said, noting her concern for the brick on the sidewalk.

A representative from Hett Construction told Olson the company could make a pattern block that looks like brick, but is safer, for about $1,000.

City Administrator David Mayfield said no money is earmarked for this project, but it could be added to next year?s budget.

The Brooker Trust is not a funding option because the money in that fund is strictly for Central Park, Mayfield explained.

Fourth quarter

In reviewing the city?s fourth-quarter financial statement, Olson said she was glad to see $1 million in unencumbered cash, noting the city?s fiscal responsibility.

Mayfield said encumbered funds are used as the starting cash for the utility, special highway, law enforcement, bond and interest, library, special park, equipment reserve and capital improvement funds.

?We cannot start the year with a zero balance or we wouldn?t be able to pay the bills for the next month,? he said.

Plus, he added, the city should have a three-month reserve for operating expenses in case of emergencies.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? head from Doug Kjellin, economic development director, that 2009 marked the fourth year in a row that sales-tax revenue increased.

?Perhaps one benefit of a slowing economy is that our citizens are realizing the value of buying in town and are not as prone to make special trips to other cities,? he said.

? heard Kjellin report having leads for three possible businesses. ?It will take local involvement and a driven entrepreneur to make these work,? he said.

? approved the appointment of Gary Lewis to the city planning commission. Olson previously had said she would appoint Nathan Hoffman to the commission. But the city requires that appointees live within a three-mile limit from town. Hoffman lives 4.5 miles away.

? heard Dick Varenhorst, chairman of Marion?s Sesquicentennial Celebration, call the event the ?perfect storm of celebrations,? with the 100th anniversary of Old Settlers? Day Parade and the state?s 150th birthday.

The committee is working on having one event each month from January through September 2011.

?I think this will be a win-win for Marion,? he said.

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