City council identifies its concerns about MCEDC

The Hillsboro City Council went on record at its July 7 meeting expressing concerns about the direction the Marion County Economic Development Council seems to be heading.

The issue arose in regard to new bylaws being developed for the county-wide group.

Larry Paine, who represents Hillsboro on MCEDC, reported the following findings the following day in an e-mail to fellow members:

?1. These bylaws focus economic development in Marion County toward tourism. Tour?ism is a component part of economic development, not the focus of economic development.

?2. Membership on the council should be the responsibility of each member community. Mayors should appoint the representatives for their communities to the council. We do not think it is in the best interest of the council for the director, chairman or other members of the council to appoint members to represent a particular community.

?3. We believe that for the council to be effective it must be involved in the aspects of county-wide economic development. Developing companies and increasing jobs within those companies is more important than recruiting new companies. Marion and Hillsboro are doing this and the council needs to assist other communities in their efforts to build their companies and job force.

?4. We believe that the most effective citizen volunteer organizations are supported by staff members of the organization.

?5. The governing body (in this case, the county commission) needs to set the direction for the council…. Marion County has an economic development plan and policy. The specific goals and objectives of the plan should be the focus of the work done by the council.?

Late last month, four MCEDC members appointed by the city of Marion resigned their positions in protest of the proposed changes.

Paine and Mayor Delores Dal?ke were authorized by the council to present the list of concerns at a future meeting of mayors and county commissioners.

Citizen concession

During the public-comment portion of the meeting, the council agreed to a request from Bob and Betty Seibel to include curb cuts at the site of the new home they are building in Carriage Hills. The cuts were needed to service underground drainage from their gutters and sump pump.

The city, intending to protect its investment in curbs, had asked the Seibels to install a custom-forged cast-iron support piece within the curb that would avoid damage to the concrete curb in coming years.

A supplier of such a piece estimated the cost at $225 for each of three support pieces that would be needed, according to Bob Seibel.

The Seibels said they were not aware of the city?s requirement until a few days before the concrete was to be poured.

Ben Steketee, city building inspector, said he had informed the Seibels? contractor of the re?quirement several weeks earlier.

The Seibels also said they found nothing in the city code requiring such a support piece, and that several of their neighbors in Carriage Hills?including at their present house several doors downs from the new one?had used the same strategy.

In the end, the council allowed the Seibels to continue with their plan because city code did not stipulate otherwise, and it would not be fair to ?change the rules midstream.?

At the same time, the council agreed that a stipulation be developed for the building code that will require the city?s new strategy in the future.

Other business

In other business, the council:

n approved the appointment of Troy Klein to the city?s volunteer fire department. He will replace Ron Toews, who is moving out of town. Fire Chief Ben Steketee said most of Toews? new gear will fit his successor.

n set 4 p.m. Aug. 4 as the time and date for a public hearing on the proposed city budget for 2010. The council will not vote on the budget at the meeting, but will listen to input from citizens.

Paine reported that despite numerous revisions, he was still some $200,000 above the mark he needs to reach to keep the city?s mill levy at its current level. In his initial draft, he was some $366,000 off the mark.

n approved a pay estimate of $325,617 for work completed on the new sewer lagoon project.

n heard from City Engineer Bob Previtera that the Ash Street improvement project, to be funded by federal stimulus money, will not be ready for bid letting until December.

He noted that moving the ?shovel ready? project to a state level through the Kansas Department of Transportation had increased the engineering plans he was required to submit from seven sheets to 32.

n was informed that an ?oil rejuvenator? would be applied to Main Street and Grand Avenue in the downtown business district on Sunday morning, July 12, when the streets are generally clear of vehicles.

The oiling will increase the life expectancy of the asphalt, Paine said.

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