Marion City Council OKs slight mill-levy reduction

The Marion City Council approved a slight mill-levy reduction for the proposed 2017 budget at its July 18 meeting.

The public budget was set for Monday, Aug. 1.

City Administrator Roger Holter said the mill levy for the 2016 budget was 71.152; the mill levy proposed for 2017 is 71.025.

“This was achieved by spending reductions in the police, pool operations allocations, street and alley and city hall,” Holter said. “The debt service amount paid by the utility department increased by $45,000.”

Based on the current valuation from the Marion County Appraiser’s office, Holter said each mill equals $10,004.

Rental inspections

Vice-mayor Melissa Mer­mis submitted a letter to the other councilors regarding the residential rental inspection program.

As a next step following the completion of the Hous­ing Assessment team’s work and findings, Mermis said she would advocate for residential rental accommodations.

“In the course of my professional career, I have witnessed the impact of sub-standard living conditions and the resulting lifestyle impact these conditions have on families and children,” she said.

Mermis said she understands the challenges facing Marion’s landlords.

“I appreciate many economic contributions they have made over so many years in our community,” she added.

Mermis said the community could create a program to improve living conditions for many renters.

“My hope would be that we could provide an annual inspection program for all residential rental housing units in town at a reasonable fee,” she said.

After reviewing the pros and cons of residential rental inspections, the council, by consensus, directed city officials to design a program for consideration.

“It would be a program that not only provides inspections of residential ren­tals, but also ed­u­­ca­tional as well as access to financial resources for both tenants and land­lords,” Hol­ter said.

The program would include facts about available winterization resources, rental repair grants and loans and rights under the law.

“The idea is not to be a burden, but…an opportunity for improvement for all involved in this community service and need,” he said.

Board term limits

Holter discussed term limits for appointed board positions, but no action was taken.

“We will be working on educational support for the appointed boards on the advantages of term limits and ways to promote increased engagement from a greater cross-section of our community,” he said.

Margo Yates, Parks and Recreation director, stated the department hosted 73 home baseball and softball games in June.

In mid-July, she said, a fishing bank area was cleared along Luta Creek, west of the mower shed in Central Park.

“We will continue to work to clear the underbrush along the creek bank and walking trail,” she said. “This will open up areas for fishing and help control overcrowding of small trees.”

The picnic shelter roof at the city ballfields will be replaced, she added.

Public forum

Marion resident Randy Hulett addressed the council about work in Jex Addition.

Hulett, who lives in the 300 block of Garfield, said he read that the city received grants for new streets in the Jex Addition. He wanted to know why the streets weren’t finished.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said the project in the Jex Addition was a sewer line replacement project. He added that there are no grants for road work in residential neighborhoods.

Holter said he would be following up with a letter to Hulett detailing the scope of work and funds received and disbursed in that area.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• approved a motion calling for the Elgin Hotel industrial revenue bond hearing. The ordinance would exempt ad valorem property taxes on the Elgin Hotel for up to 10 years, along with other stipulations.

Prior to the ordinance, the city had a public hearing May 9 and reviewed the analysis of costs and benefits required by state statute.

• reviewed department and staff meeting reports.

• went into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. No action was taken when the public session resumed.

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