Marion council hears other side of water-bill dispute

Dispute over a water bill at the last Marion City council meeting prompted board members from Improvement District No. 2 to have their side of the story heard Tuesday.

At the Nov. 3 meeting, David Mayfield, city administrator, asked the council for direction regarding a nearly $4,000 past due water bill owed by Marion County Improvement District No 2, which serves residents at or near the county lake.

However, Dan Crumrine, chair of the district, told the council the board did not want to deceive anyone and wanted to openly talk about the issue.

?I want to thank Mary Olson, (Marion?s mayor) for letting us tell our side of the story on what has happened,? he said.

?It?s been a learning process for us, and it seemed nobody wanted to sit down and hear our side.?

Crumrine said the board believes the city of Marion has some responsibility in this as well.

When the district sent a check for $2,000 to pay a portion of the water bill, Crumrine said, the board thought that was a good number and fair considering the contract and the city?s responsibility to ask for calibration when a possible discrepancy had occurred.

If the city were to request calibration, which would require flushing the system afterward, Crumrine said the city should be responsible for paying the extra water charge if the result of the testing is within +or- 2 percent.

Two other members of the board substantiated Crumrine?s concerns associated with the calibration issue and about the amount of water used.

One concern Mayfield said he had involved the 20th of every month as the date for reading meters and how this had not been the case for several months.

The board said that many times the meters were read on time, but the numbers might not be turned in for a few days.

Mayfield said he would like a city employee to read the meter at the same time as the district did.

After almost a 30-minute discussion, the council voted to charge Marion County Improvement District No. 2 the original amount of $3,973.61 and not the total bill of $6,399.55 which included a penalty of $2,425.94.

In other city council business:

n An update on the Brooker Trust and the possibility of renaming Central Park to Brooker Park was tabled at Olson?s request because Bill Holdeman, councilor, was absent.

She said she wanted a full council before any decisions about the trust were made. The issue will be brought back at the next meeting on Monday, Dec. 1.

n Al Ash, retired military, was named to the planning commission. Olson said one more position on the planning commission is open.

n The council extended a $5,000 grant for Seacat Lumber. The owner, Brad Seacat, told the council he is asking for the extension while continuing to wait for approval of a revitalization initiative.

He said he has been approved, then not, then approved and recently denied again. The impact of getting approved would mean hundreds of dollars less in property taxes.

?I am holding out for it (revitalization),? he told the council. Seacat said he believes he should qualify since he has had a growing business for 10 years.

He told the council he has all the building materials at the site, but he cannot begin building and be approved on the revitalization. He plans to revisit the issue with Marion County soon.

The council approved the grant extension.

n Christmas bonuses in the amount of $100 for each full-time employee was approved. Mayfield said the money was already built into the budget for this year.

Stacey Collett, councilor, asked about using Chamber bucks instead of dollars. Angela Lange, city clerk, said the city cannot do that because the bonus has to go through payroll with taxes taken out.

n Margo Yates, Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Recreation Commission, said the retail sales committee has decided on Dec. 7 for the holiday parade. The committee also was considering promotional cloth bags to give away to visitors or use for promotional discounts.

Yates had hoped the promotional brochure would have been ready to view, but isn?t expected to be finished until next week. It will highlight lakes, parks, new school facilities and other Marion features.

The Class Tourney is scheduled for Dec. 8-13 and seven different schools have committed to playing.

?This is an opportunity showcase our community,? she said. The Classic Tourney is a basketball event for boys and girls in third through sixth grades. Some of the teams are coming from Salina, Chase, Hillsboro, Peabody and McPherson.

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