Marion council appoints Mermis as new chief

The Marion City Council voted unanimously at its Jan. 9 meeting to appoint Tyler Mermis as the new chief of police at a salary of $42,000.

Mermis succeeds Josh Whitwell, who resigned the position Jan. 5.

Mayor Mary Olson said Mermis, who is on overseas assignment with the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve, is expected to return to Marion in the near future. Until that time, Police Officer Clinton Jeffrey will serve as acting chief.

Prior to his departure, Whitwell recommended Mermis for the job of police chief.

?(Tyler) makes the best fit and I hope the council gives him an opportunity to prove himself,? Whitwell said last week. ?He is a great leader and is loved by many in the community. I know he will do a great job.?

Upcoming election

The council position held by Bill Holdeman and Steve Smith are up for re-election in April.

Lange said the deadline to file for a council seat is noon Jan. 24. To date, Lange said no one has registered for either seat. Filing requires a $5 or 25 names on a petition.

Receptionist hired

The council authorized City Administrator Doug Kjellin to begin advertising for a receptionist. The vote was 4-1, with Councilor Jerry Kline dissenting.

Olson said she spoke with City Clerk Angela Lange about projects she has wanted to do, but Lange has not had time because a third person is needed in the front office.

Future projects

Lange outlined 11 projects she would like to continue or complete in the near future once the third staff member is hired.

Those include:

? codification of ordinances, which Lange said would allow the city council and administrative staff quick access to active ordinances.

The system would also make ordinances available to the public through the city?s website, she added. It also would ensure no conflicting ordinances and would help administrative staff enforce policies.

? implementation of an inventory program. This will allow the city and council members to track equipment and higher-dollar assets, provide information in case of disaster and reduce the cost of purchasing inventory that may be located in another department and not in use.

?I have not seen a list yet that has met with my satisfaction,? Olson said, adding that if Lange is able to do it, ?she deserves a pat on the back.?

? cemetery information put into software. Becky Makovec, utility clerk, would like to accomplish that task, but Lange said Makovec will need to have someone watch the front desk while she?s doing the work.

The advantages of this project would be quicker access for public record search and ensuring accuracy of death records and burials.

? develop rate studies to ensure the city is collecting revenue to cover the cost of the city?s utilities.

?These are rate studies for water, sewer and electric,? Lange said. ?While it might seem like a simple thing, it is actually a long process to figure how much utilities are actually costing, what to sell them for and what we need 10 years down the road as far as community growth.

?It is a project that will take time.?

Olson said the council has asked Lange to do some of this, but she has had to stop whatever else she was doing to pursue the project.

? becoming a grant administrator to reduce the administrative cost the city incurs through outsourcing.

Lange said if she took classes to become a certified grant administrator, she would be able to better understand documents from Rose Mary Saunders with Ranson Financial of Wichita, who handles the city?s grants.

Lange said it also would allow her to do smaller Department of Commerce grants for fire department equipment and other projects without costing the city thousands of dollars in outsourcing.

? improving employee services by researching other health-care options so city workers are getting the best plan at the best price. Other advantages include implementing a proactive program to help reduce health-care costs and sick days and establishing an employee portal in providing information.

? insurance billing for the fire department. The billing would increase revenue for reimbursement of fire runs for structure fires.

?Currently, the fire department is absorbing these costs,? Lange said. ?It would also allow more time to work on insurance billings for vehicle accidents.?

? working with community boards to establish by-laws and purpose statements for each one. She also would like to conduct annual training on the Kansas Open Meetings Act, send welcome packets to newly appointed members and get information on the city?s website to keep the public informed.

Another project involved increasing public involvement and knowledge by using the website to keep people informed about what city crews are doing, allow utility customers to pay online, providing information about the ?State of the City? complete with financial data, accomplishments and summaries.

The other two projects were updating annual license procedures and records management.

Olson said these projects won?t happen in a couple of weeks, but with the help of a receptionist Lange would be able to focus her attention in that direction.

Other business

The council also:

? approved Kjellin as the Freedom of Information officer;

? approved a plumbing license for Frazier Bros. Plumb?ing;

? approved the stone wall repair bids at a cost of $3,260;

? approved Resolution 12-01, which waives the statutory requirement to use generally accepting accounting principles in the preparation of financial statements and reports.

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