After 58 years with the same auditing firm, the Marion City Council voted 4-1 Oct. 5, to contract with a different one.
The council accepted the lower bid submitted by Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball. The city had been using the services of Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, LLC.
In a previous meeting, the council had decided it would be fiscally prudent to look at other companies and compare rates.
Marion City Clerk Angela Lange said bids were sent to six companies, but only two responded.
Scot Loyd with Swindoll, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd, and Bill Glazner, with Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball, both certified public accountants, attended Monday?s meeting to answer questions or review the services they provide.
?It?s a $9,000 difference over a three-year period,? Councilor Gene Winkler said of the bids.
Loyd?s firm submitted a $13,000 annual bid as opposed to Glazner?s company offering a bid of $9,500 in 2009, $10,000 in 2010 and $10,500 in 2011.
?We have been the city?s auditing firm since 1951 and this is a sad day,? Loyd said.
Todd Heitschmidt, chairman of the Marion Advancement Campaign offered more information about improving the city auditorium.
In the initial concept, the north wall in the lobby was removed, giving the auditorium a larger foyer and additional entry point, he said.
In his presentation, Heitschmidt showed the council a rendering with conferences, trade shows and other events.
In addition to removing the north wall, the auditorium floor would also be leveled.
?Right now there is a 13-inch drop from the back to front,? Heitschmidt said.
Removing part of the stage, adding steps and leveling the slope would open up the room, he suggested.
?What is the price tag?? asked Councilor Bill Holdeman.
Heitschmidt said MAC is ready to find out how much it would cost, but it needs the council?s approval before getting an engineer to look into it.
The cost to find out if removing the wall is structurally sound would be about $2,500, which MAC would pay.
Doug Kjellin, economic development director for the city, said tax credits could be available for the project in 2010 from NetWork Kansas.
Heitschmidt talked about how Courtney Geis, a Marion High School graduate, did an architectural drawing of the auditorium as part of her graduate work with Kansas State University.
The reason for renovating the auditorium, he said, is to make the space more functional.
In other business, the council:
n voted 3-2 to leave the parking situation the same on North Cedar. The two dissenting votes came from Mayor Mary Olson and Councilor Stacey Collett.
n accepted Kjellin?s resignation from the Marion County Economic Development Council following a 30-minute closed-door session.
As the city?s economic development director, Kjellin has been required to attend MCEDC meetings. In order to allow the resignation, the council agreed to change the job description to make attendance optional.
n was asked by Collett to either consider or reject a proposal for a reflective road marker presented by Marion resident Bill Keith.
He said Keith, who had approached the council at the end of August with the idea, deserved a response.
?When it?s dark and in the middle of the night, our next generation of firefighters will benefit from these markers,? he said.
The council unanimously approved asking for donations from its residents in their November billing. The city sends out about 1,000 utility bills, and if every household donates 50 cents to $1, the contributions would more than pay for the markers.The total cost would be $900.
n heard Marion resident Tony Schafer, who lives in the 400 block of North Cedar, ask during the public forum portion of the meeting why the city moved a power line on the far end of Second Street.
Schafer said he had heard the reason the power line was moved was because a resident complained about bird droppings landing on her vehicle.
Schafer said moving the power line directly affects his property.
?Now the birds are going potty on my pickup,? he said.
Schafer said the power line was moved about two weeks ago, and he wondered if preferential treatment is being given to this resident.
?It?s the principle,? Schafer said, asking the council to investigate.