Marion council lowers fee for underground electric lines

Hoping for a favorable response by residents and business owners, the Marion City Council, at its Dec. 26 meeting, dropped the charge for burying overhead electrical lines by $300.

City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the reducing the current cost of $750 to $450 would be voluntary for landowners.

“We want to encourage a more reliable electrical service by not having overhead lines,” Kjellin said of the rationale.

The reduced cost covers the city’s expenses, but also aids the city crews.

Kjellin said a cost study determined that $450 covers the first 150 feet and anything over that costs $3 per foot.

By keeping costs low, it is hoped the city can encourage landowners to bury these lines, which should reduce expense to service them.

“If we have an icing event, (burying lines) eliminates the potential for houses down from power outages,” Kjellin said. “This helps because the majority of secondary service is failure of overhead lines to homes or structures.”

Councilor Jerry Dieter voiced concern about residential homes feeding off the same transformer.

Kjellin said that wouldn’t be a problem.

“We can actually ‘T’ off of those for whatever service we need,” he said. “We might have some (residents) go underground with some next door above ground.”

Mayor Mary Olson asked if an application was available so interested residents could know exactly what was covered in the $450 service charge.

Kjellin said there is no such application.

“All a resident (or business) would have to do is state they wish to have underground service put in place and we would accommodate them the best we can,” he said.

Kjellin said no resolutions or ordinances require services to be underground, except in subdivision regulations.

Olson suggested people might understand the process better if it was written down.

Kjellin said, “Our crews would allow for anything that needs to be done.”

The procedure would have city crews taking the electrical lines from the pole, putting them underground and then bringing them to the residents’ houses.

“I am not sure there is a necessity (to write it down),” he said.

Other fees

In addition to approving the decrease in the underground electrical service charge, three other changes to the fee schedule were amended or added.

One was clarification regarding photocopies by including “per two-sided page,” and the other two were fees added for Christmas lighting services and refuse.

Other items on the fee schedule include hangar rent at the airport, animal control, building permits, cemetery, court costs and more. The city office has a complete list available.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• approved a resolution declaring the city would become a member of the PRIDE organization.

• approved several 2013 board appointments: Phyllis Kreutziger and Dale Johnson to the Cemetery Board; Ruth Herbel, Margo Yates and Chad Gormley to the Planning Com­mission; Dorothy Youk to the Housing Authority and Hilltop Manor Board; Wendy Youk to the Museum Board; and Lyle Leppke and Bill Darrow to the Airport Board.

• tabled the appointment of Diana Holub to the Marion Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals based on a question about serving on more than one board.

• approved the Kansas Water Pollution Control Revol­ving Fund loan disbursement for the Jex Addition sewer replacement project, which finances the city’s portion of the work.

• heard from Councilor Jerry Kline’s concerns about the drought and the city’s water supply. Kjellin said the city has is a backup source in case of major water problems at Marion Reservoir, the city’s primary source.

• heard Police Chief Tyler Mermis report about more patrolling around the schools after the recent shooting incident in Newton, Conn.

• reviewed information presented by Kjellin regarding a possible increase in electric rates. The council agreed to a work session prior to its next regular council meeting at 4 p.m. Jan. 7.

• heard Kjellin’s concern that the federal “fiscal cliff” may impair municipalities from getting competitive rates through tax-exempt bonds. Kjellin referenced an article in the Dec. 26 issue of the Hillsboro Free Press about the subject.

• heard Olson report in the city’s economic development director position. She asked for a work session.

• learned from Ron Herbel, 611 S. Freeborn, during the public forum that his home loses power three times more than houses across the street. Kjellin said he would look into the issue.

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