Marion councilors asked for cuts to avoid mill increase

The Marion City Council was asked to consider what departments could reduce expenses to avoid a mill increase in the 2017 budget at the July 5 meeting.

City Administrator Roger Holter said the city needs $80,000 to keep the mill levy down.

“Half of the mill increase will be by a utility transfer of $40,000 and the other would include a list of places to cut,” he said. “I think it would be far better to allow five departments to give them a number and allow them to manage it.”

Councilor Jerry Kline said he would look at cuts in the museum’s budget, the police department and parks and recreation.

“There comes a time we can’t afford all this,” he said.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said he would consider looking at both revenue increases and cuts to certain departments.

“Maybe a little out of the recreation-side of parks and recreation because it has the ability to generate fees,” he said.

He said he would cut the street and alley budget, but asked about the police department’s fee and if there could be an increase in revenue.

However, Susan Robson, city attorney, said there is limited use on some of the forfeiture funds, but it can’t be part of the budget.

Vests, radios, communication upgrades could be from seizure funds, Holter added.

Councilor Melissa Mermis said she believed parks and recreation’s budget could be reviewed for cuts, along with streets and alleys and police department.

Mermis also asked about a fee schedule and if it would make a difference.

“Maybe raising the basketball fee,” she said, as one example.

Councilor Chris Costello also said streets and alley, which is one of the easier ones to manage. He also thought the museum and parks and recreation could be reviewed for cuts.

“Looking at history, maybe there could be something in the general administration budget,” he said.

The property valuations which came in from the county is $63,118 per mill, which is stagnate growth, he said.

Airport improvements

Holter said the Marion Municipal Airport board met and discussed future projects and improvements.

“The board requested the city begin analysis in erecting additional hangars,” he said.

The last time hangars were built at the airport was one in 1993 and one in 1998, he said. The “pay back” time based on the current rental fees for a hanger is between 17.5 and 20 years, Holter added.

Regarding the use of the current assets, he explained that a pilot can lease the building and only use it to store a plane, but we also have four people on the waiting list for a hangar.

“We have three hangars empty, however they are leased on an annual basis,” he said. “When a pilot in transient wants to stop and put his plan in overnight, the fees are reasonable.”

The airport board would like to modify this by changing the lease agreement so that an aircraft has to be stored here as the base of operation.

“The theory behind that,” Holter said, “is the economic impact regarding fuel sales, activity and helping us on grant opportunities at the airport.”

In addition to pilots using the hangar as a “motel for planes,” there are also two hangars rented out to aircraft not airworthy, he said.

In this situation, the airport board would like to consider having a board inspection on a bi-annual basis. If the plane is not restored in one year to air worthiness then it would need to be removed.

“These are a bit more restrictive guidelines,” Holter said, “but the airport board would like the council’s opinion on modifying agreements.”

Rent for a small hangar, Holter said is $60 a month and the larger one is $92 a month, which one councilor said is cheaper than storing a camper.

Costello asked if we need to look at the entire operation, and Holter answered, “yes.”

The council directed Holter to work with the airport board and some fee structures, along with agreements.

“What are other airports charging (for rent)?” Costello asked.

Heitschmidt asked about an additional hangar, adding that this is a business operation, and he would expect some type of cash up front maybe 20-25 percent.

Preliminary estimates for smaller and larger hangars in the 1990s was $40,000 and $65,000 respectively., but it would be more than that today.

Holter was also asked to look at rents to see what would be reasonable rates.

The council, by concensus asked Holter to consider a structure and give recommendations in September.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• discussed improvements at Marion East Park to include construction, inspection and some administration costs for a total of $150,281 to be paid out.

• heard from Casey Case, a resident, during public forum regarding the use of illegal fireworks in the city. limits Heitschmidt said it’s too bad when a few people ruin it for the majority by bringing in fireworks from another state that aren’t legal in Kansas.

• approved a resolution to solicit bids for razing the house at 118 W. Santa Fe, with Amy Park listed as the registered owner.

• heard an update by Bryan Grosse on the property at 432 Arbor St. Grosse said he has completed the roof, front porch and added three retaining walls, but is wanting to keep the same size of windows so that part is not done yet.

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