Marion leaders seeking people for new board

The Marion City Council, at its Oct. 12 meeting, discussed its search for people interested in serving on the new Parks and Recreation board.

The new board combines the recreation, parks and cemetery boards into one.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said all three groups were approached about finding three volunteers to serve on the new nine-member board.

?We wanted continuity, but couldn?t find three volunteers from each of the existing boards to do that,? he said.

Heitschmidt provided the council with a list of seven names submitted so far, but he would like to see more recruited.

Two of those willing to serve on the new board included current members of the cemetery board, one member from the recreation board and none from parks.

?I would like to have this filled sooner than later to start meeting and planning for Jan. 1,? Heitschmidt said.

City Administrator Roger Holter said the new advisory board is unlike anything previously in place.

?It?s envisioned they would handle strategic programs development, strategic capital plans for all venues in Marion, pricing and participants, levels and guidelines,? he said.

Holter said in the past only an elite few determined all of those things, which is why Holter said he sees the new board as an opportunity to solicit a broader base of constituents.

?They could help (the city) plan how and what is the future and how to get there,? he said.

New board?s role

Councilor Chad Akins asked about applying and receiving grants, citing the East Park renovation as one example.

?Will it still be (the city) looking for those opportunities or would we be asking (the new board) for their permission?? he said.

Holter said regardless of what the new group proposes financially, the council is still the body that will make the final decision.

?This group would be soliciting input from the community,? Holter said.

In the East Park scenario, the city received almost $222,000 in grant funds with the city contributing $24,660.

?The new director would serve as the spokesperson recommending (to the council) the grant opportunity or the board?s belief (the city) should apply for it,? he said.

Another example, Holter added, is the need for walking trails or a desire to connect the trail to somewhere.

The new Parks and Recreation board, he said, would be charged with finding out what the community wants.

?It?s not the council?s role to decide, nor the paid staff?s role,? he said. ?This advisory board would put together the parameters, but the paid staff would have to work out the details and get it to the council.?

Heitschmidt said that?s not to say the council or mayor wouldn?t meet with other people on visioning-type discussions.

?(The new group) is fluid and has more authority, but as Roger was eluding, we have the final response to make final decisions,? he said.

Yet, the council wants this advisory board to know its recommendations would carry a lot of weight on how the city would proceed, Heitschmidt said.

Playing fair

In the past, Holter said, the city might have moved forward with a project without the community buying into it.

?Recreation holds the highest emotion for people,? he said. ?Some people have expressed concern over the competitiveness of various leagues and asking if the city is really servicing the needs of this community.?

?This is where (the new board) is going to define what events we want, level of competitiveness and then it is the responsibility of the director and myself to make it come to fruition,? Holter said.

Heitschmidt said wants to make recommendations by the first meeting in November.

?It doesn?t mean we have to have all nine people filled for appointment purposes, but we need to get started.?

Other business

In other business, the council:

? heard highlights from Heitschmidt?s trip to Topeka, Oct. 10-12, for the annual League of Kansas Municipalities meeting.

? heard from Terry Jones, economic development director, who was a presenter at the LKM.

? reviewed changes to zoning regulations prior to the public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 27. Both changes dealt with storage issues in residential areas and properties with frontage directly on Main Street between Elm and Walnut streets.

? discussed a new chapter added to zoning regulations regarding renewable energy with information ranging from solar panels to geothermal for heating and electricity.

The chapter is not prohibiting this source of energy, Jones said, it?s just making sure someone isn?t putting up a 100-foot window in their backyard.

? agreed with City Clerk Tiffany Jeffrey about a personnel policy change from general and financial budgetary policy to personnel policy as it relates to employee vacation and carryover after anniversary dates.

? approved a request for proposal regarding the city?s banking services. The current agreement will end this year and Jeffrey said a new agreement will need approval. All three banks will be sent the RFP, Jeffrey said.

? heard from Holter about the cemetery board?s recommendation to increase fees to include grave-opening from $200 to $300; overtime charges from $100 to $150 and cemetery lots (one space) from $200 to $300.

Councilor Melissa Mermis said she would like the cemetery board to give the presentation if they believe some increases are necessary. No action was taken on the increases.

? reviewed emergency management procedures in light of recent storms causing powers outages from three hours up to 24 hours for some residents.

After a debriefing, the city staff put together a 21-page comprehensive program booklet that covers a spectrum of disasters and priorities.

The council approved the written and electronic plan for the city.

? went into executive session for 15 minutes to discuss non-elected personnel. In addition to the council, Susan Robson, city attorney, and Holter were included. No action was taken in public session.

? learned from Jones that the Marion Economic Development Inc. has created an economic development website. The site is expected to be finished next month.

? learned the city received a $21,000 credit this month from the Kansas Power Pool. This year about $100,000 in credits have been made with some of that money being used as credit off a resident?s electric bill, which translates to an average of about $12-14 so far this year.

? learned after a roundtable discussion at the KLM, that Marion last year had a 12 percent water loss system wide. Holter said it had been around 10 percent.

In monitoring electric line loss, the city was at 3.2 percent. Heitschmidt said one community was experiencing 25 percent water loss.

? heard from Heit?schmidt about the fifth annual model airplane enthusiasts gathering at Marion Municipal Airport. About 30 people participated, these types of events have economic benefit for Marion.

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