Marion sharpens city’s stewardship in 2017

Marion Mayor Todd Heitschmidt (left) and City Administrator Roger Holter review maps of the City of Marion. Holter said city projects must be balanced: “It can’t be all development toward tax-exempt entities because ultimately development where none of it hits the tax roll just creates infrastructure to be paid for by citizens/”.<p>

Marion City Administra­tor Roger Holter said that in 2017 the city set out to sharpen its stewardship while inspiring others for the same path.

“The vision and path this city council set out to achieve was built upon a commitment to deliver the best possible amenities and services at the greatest value possible,” Holter said.

The result was “tremendous insights” from citizens and community partners.

Accomplishments in 2017 included:

◼ completing the Marion City Hall basement and conference center;

◼ cleaning all the main sewer lines in the valley;

◼ sealing North Cedar Street;

◼ replacing all the primary clarifier valve flushing stems at the water plant

◼ replacing the roof on a field dugout at the baseball complex;

◼ first complete year for the Parks and Recreation Dept.

◼ reconstructing all the Main Street trash can holders;

◼ removing a dilapidated structure at 714 Sherman St. and establishing a land bank;

◼ establishing an enhanced waterline flushing program;

◼ replacing 927 feet of main sewer lines;

◼ purchasing a new trash truck;

◼ installing a new sewage lift station at 700 South Free­born;

◼ starting the remodel of the concession stand and upgrades at the baseball complex;

◼ hiring three employees;

◼ starting a street light replacement program.

Mayor’s list

In addition to the previous accomplishments, Mayor Todd Heitschmidt added these achievements:

◼ the Kansas Housing Resource Corp. grant for Streetscapes on First to Fifth downtown Grant;

◼ stewardship wins—police radio savings, patrol car without taxes and special law enforcement;

◼ new businesses: The Building Center, War Bird Pizza, Diamond H Fitness and removing regulation barriers for the expansion of events in the Elgin.

◼ mill levy decrease and electrical rate decrease while other cities were increasing rates;

◼ phone system upgrades to reduce expenses and improve customer accessibility;

◼ FEMA levee certification and the updating of the FIRM flood maps;

◼ enhancements to legislative advocacy with county, state and federal elected officials;

◼ launched a municipal internship program and increase participating in the high school work;

◼ hosted the Kansas Firefighters Association Regional Fire School;

◼ partnered with KPTS (Kansas Public Telecom­munications Inc.

◼ plans and grant application for airport expansion;

◼ revisited dogs, ducks and chickens as a community passionate topic;

◼ revisited the 2014 visioning project and validated path to the future;

◼ implemented actions to create a more visible and transparent government. Public access postings of council packets, budgets and warrants, defined social media policies.

Unique styles

Holter said that each community has its own style and are unique.

He mentioned Hillsboro, and how the community completed large infrastructure projects.

“Under the leadership of the Marion City Council,” Holter said, he and rest of the staff were directed to balance things out.

“It can’t be all development toward tax-exempt entities because ultimately development where none of it hits the tax roll just creates infrastructure to be paid for by citizens,” Holter said.

Holter said the city’s economic development efforts have to be balanced between governmental entities wanting to expand, partner organizations and what they are wanting to expand.

“How do we really create with Diamond H?” he asked. “What a wonderful partnership having an entrepreneur from the county.

“It took the efforts of our community foundation that controlled this particular parcel and were willing to make that sale,” Holter said.

It benefitted the end-users and the services Marion Advancement Campaign provides, and the entre­preneur has a Main Street location, Holter said.

“While Diamond H is a sizeable investment, it is not a $13.1 million performing arts center, but it comes on the tax rolls paying much more than the performing arts center ever will.”

Along with Diamond H, a young entrepreneur graduating from Marion High School is starting a building center.

“He has received support and recognition,” Holter said. “He received Network Kansas grants, grants working through the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is a collaborative effort.”

In addition, the business owner is working with Randy Collett, economic development director, our staff and the universities in determining where it goes again.

“That’s real expansion for our community,” Holter said.

Identify assets

“(The owner) took a parcel that was an old gas station in deteriorating condition, a dent repair shop also in similar condition, and then rehabilitated structures both structures and did additional construction,” Holter said.

“Our business community aligns with the leadership of our (city) council, and it’s really about how we figure out ways to contribute instead of consume the assets that exist in our community.”

Holter also mentioned the downstairs area of city hall and how it is a public building.

“That was another accomplished project, and again through partnerships,” he said. “It’s getting the right people around the table and creating this common goal, and then focus on getting the barriers out of the way.”

Although Holter said the downstairs is a little prideful statement, he believes it is a huge transformation and an incredible asset to the Marion community.

“Unfortunately, not all governmental entities take the assets they have and figure out how to redevelop or repurpose them,” Holter said. “We see those as big wins here.”

Keeping taxes low

With all the activity underway in Marion, the city is also holding down taxes, Holter said.

“Of all the taxing entities, Marion has been the only one for three years to maintain,” Heitschmidt said. “It goes toward our accomplishments for 2017 by maintaining that again.”

Aside from that, Heit­schmidt said the city is making a graph available showing the tax breakdowns for Marion County, Marion, USD 408, St. Luke Hospital, drainage and state of Kansas.

“We are competing with other counties and cities where that playing field is different than what we have, and so that is the most difficult that we are going to need to address as a county,” Heitschmidt said.

It’s not just for the Marion County Commis­sioners, he added.

“This is something that all the players need to be at the table, which includes the county.”

Marion city officials will be working on property tax issues in the future.

“This is not the stuff you would go to the magazine rack and read through it, but it’s vital to the county, and not all that complicated,” Heitschmidt said.

Communication and information is important, Holter said, and the city is wanting to get this out so residents, and not just Marion residents, but Marion County residents, understand a little bit more about what’s going on in the big picture.

“We are not mutually exclusive,” Heitschmidt said.The featured concert by Charlie Daniels Band was a highlight of the Chingawassa Days festival the first weekend of June 2017. “We are competing with other counties and cities where that playing field is different than what we have, and so that is the most difficult that we are going to need to address as a county,” Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said.Another grassroots effort in Marion is the annual Art in the Park event each third Saturday of September in the city’s Central Park. The arts and crafts showcase attracts several thousands visitors and buyers.

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