Marion Council nixes lights credit

The Marion City Council did not approve a $10 credit on utility bills for Christmas lighting in December at its meeting Monday.

In previous years, residents who requested the discount in December were credited $10 on their January billing.

?Last year we had 214 residents apply for the $10 credit,? said Angela Lange, city clerk. ?This was a total of $2,140 in discounts.?

Councilor Stacey Collett said with the next discussion item being a $1.50 a month rate increase for refuse services, he could not support paying out $10 on lighting.

Councilor Gene Winkler said it seemed odd to give $10 back and then turn around and ask everyone to pay out $18 a year for the refuse service.

Councilor Bill Holdeman said he has heard that more residents have been paying their utility bills with credit cards.

Lange said she has also had people inquire about getting other assistance to help pay their utility bills.

?It?s the wrong time of the year to give this credit,? Councilor Steve Smith said.

Mayor Mary Olson said she would like to see the credit remain in place, but the council voted 4-1 against the idea.

A lot of towns nationwide are moving toward banners instead of putting up holiday lights, said Doug Kjellin, city of Marion Economic Development director.

Harvey Sanders, public works director, said it takes about four or five city employees to put up lights, which are lit from about 5 p.m. to midnight during the holiday season.

Following action to disapprove of the credit, the council then approved a $1.50 per month rate increase on refuse service.

David Mayfield, city administrator, said the trash service is breaking even on the cost of fuel, trash bags and paying for itself. The problem, he said, is that no money is filtering back into the reserve fund for a replacement trash truck.

The city bought the new trash truck two years ago, he said, and with a life expectancy of about 10 years, money needs to be put in reserve for a replacement.

With residential and commercial businesses paying an additional $1.50 a month across the board, Mayfield said in eight years the reserve fund will have more than $100,000 on hand for a new truck.

The city?s charge for refuse service is $7 per month. Each year the city gives residents one roll of 50 large plastic trash bags for free. For that $7, the city picks up trash twice a week.

Holdeman asked if once a week pickup would help, but Marty Fredrickson, director of streets, said the truck still needs to run every day for commercial businesses.

Councilors also approved renewing the city?s contract with Ranson Financial Consultants, LLC, Wichita, for another year.

The fee schedule for the new contract would be $85 per hour, plus expenses.

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