Marion council waives $1,120 late fee for hospital utility bill



The Marion City Council unanimously approved waiving the 10 percent late fee amounting to $1,120 for St. Luke Hospital?s November utility bill at its Nov. 28 meeting.

Representing the hospital were Diane Kahns, chief financial officer, and Bev Reid, business office manager, who spoke with council members about why the bill was late.

Kahns said that in March the electric meter at the physician?s clinic was combined with the new one at the hospital.

In order to keep expenses separate for billing, she said, the hospital would get a separated report.

?I would call Becky (Makovec),? Kahns said, ?and whenever she got the readings she would call and give that to me, but I?m not sure what happened in November.?

Kahns said she was told by Makovec, who is the city?s utility billing clerk, that procedures had changed and the person reading the meter didn?t need to get out of the truck.

Makovec, according to Kahns, said that she didn?t get the readings until Monday, Nov. 10, but the problem was that the hospital does ?check runs? every Wednesday.

?So when I got the reading and it was for one of the larger accounts of the hospital with the remodel,? Kahns said, ?the check didn?t get out until Dec. 16 and Becky didn?t get it until Dec. 17.?

It is for this reason, she said, the hospital is requesting the city waive the penalty.

Kahns said she talked with Makovec after the incident and the two of them have come up with a different process.

?We were told we could go out and read the meter and someone could show us how to do this, instead of relying on this person, giving to this person, et cetera,? Kahns said.

?This is also the only time we have ever been late,? she added.

City administrator Doug Kjellin said the two meters were combined was because of the new transformer and how meter energy goes to both locations.

?As I understand it,? he said, ?the internal workings of the physician?s clinic are separated out and the remainder is the main part of the hospital.?

In addition, Kjellin said he wanted the council to know the city did everything correctly in getting the information to the hospital.

?Only one (meter) paid late (of the seven meters the hospital has),? Kjellin said. ?Everything on our side was right. (The hospital is) responsible for splitting those two meters out.?

Kahns said she wanted to let the council know that she and Makovec work well together.

?For some reason this month, it didn?t work good with the holiday in there,? she said.

Compost pile fire

Councilor Jerry Kline said he heard from a lot of people asking him why the city is burning so many compost piles.

?They are concerned about it,? he said, ?and they want their dirt.?

Kjellin said the fires were not set intentionally. ?The reignited tree burn pile went over to the compost pile,? Kjellin said. ?We even had a fire truck dispatched to put it out.?

Kline asked, ?Is it too close to the burn pile??

Kjellin explained that on Nov. 21 the city had almost 40 mph straight winds out of the southwest.

?That wind was so strong,? he said, ?not a pit would have been big enough to prevent that from happening.?

In addition to talking about the compost pile burn, Kjellin reminded councilors that three months ago new keys were made and all old keys to the tree dump and compost areas won?t work.

The new keys were part of a quality control issue and now the city has a list of who have and don?t have keys, Kjellin said.

New seat belt program

Marion Police Chief Josh Whitwell talked about a seat belt program through Marion High School. The program, would allow students to monitor the activities of other students regarding seat belts.

?If they see kids not wearing belts, they can write warnings or tickets depending on the frequency,? he said.

?Those wearing seat belts would get their name thrown in a pot and in six to nine weeks names would be drawn to win a $50 certificate.?

Although, it is a state program, Whitwell said the school would be spearheading it and encouraging students to wear seat belts.

In other business the council:

? asked Kjellin what the status is on repairing resident Teresa Huffman?s retaining wall, which was damaged by city crews. Kjellin said they have only received one bid and he would like more bids before moving forward.

? learned Kjellin would be attending the Kansas Association of City and County Managers in Topeka from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

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