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Commission shifts zoning costs to users

Staff writer

Significant fee increases for Marion County Planning and Zoning Department services will shift the cost burden to those who actually use the services, and away from general taxpayer support, as a result of action Tuesday by the Marion County Commission.

The fee structure is the result of analysis of surrounding counties, as well as departmental operations, Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.

“Some places we were charging five and ten dollars to do things that other counties were charging three or four hundred dollars to do,” Holub said. “We tried to find a medium in there. We looked at it not only from the average fee, but what does it cost us.”

“It’s charging the people who are using the services, and not having the whole county pay for somebody wanting to do something,” Commissioner Roger Fleming said.

A total of 27 department services are covered by the new fee structure. Among the new fees, in-house water tests and re-inspections will cost $20, while an application for a wastewater permit will cost $100. Commercial zoning application fees range from $100 to $500, depending on the value of the property being rezoned.

Updated zoning and subdivision regulations for unincorporated areas of Marion County were also approved by the commission.

“The big change to the regulations was the elimination of industrial zones to move all those activities to conditional use activities,” planning consultant David Yearout of Yearout Associates said.

A second significant change establishes a new process for agricultural lot splits, Yearout said. Owners of agricultural lots may designate a portion of a lot for other purposes, but must sign a covenant restricting them from dividing the agricultural lot further.

Roads

John Riggins and Jon Halbgewachs of Kirkham Michael presented proposals for engineering oversight of the Tampa road project, and resurfacing of 25 miles of county roads.

The commission approved a $75,000 contract with Kirkham Michael to monitor the four-mile project connecting Tampa with K-15.

“We’re going to open bids Monday, and look at doing the first part of construction in February,” Halbgewachs said.

The engineering oversight contract includes both work site supervision and quality control.

“While they’re laying asphalt there will be another guy in the lab doing tests on asphalt the entire time they’re there,” Riggins said.

Riggins provided a detailed estimate of four resurfacing options for 25 miles of county roads, including both chip seal and asphalt overlay options.

Holub and Fleming postponed action on the proposal to a future meeting, as Commissioner Randy Dallke was not present for the meeting.

“I’d just as soon all three of us be here so that as a commission we’re going in the right direction,” Fleming said.

Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford asked commissioners to consider a 5 percent across-the-board pay raise for department employees.

“We’ve got to take care of our good employees,” Crawford said, emphasizing the importance of retaining employees who have been performing well.

Commissioners were not receptive to an across-the-board raise, but did encourage Crawford to evaluate and propose raises based on merit.

“I don’t think any one of us are against giving a performance raise, versus one where everybody gets one,” Fleming said.

Crawford expressed concern about road signs throughout the county, which he said are being defaced or stolen at an alarming rate.

“I was just up north this morning, and a curve sign, you can’t tell what it is,” Crawford said. “The curves on 310 — there’s a real sharp curve, they’re shooting up the signs, and we just can’t keep up with it.”

“We need to do something with these signs, they’re tearing them up left and right,” Fleming said. “What I’m worried about are the stop signs.”

The cost for replacing a sign is approximately $100, Crawford said.

Fairground

Marion County Fair Association board members Kelly Savage and Dan Bernhardt presented bids for projects to upgrade facilities at the fairgrounds in Hillsboro.

Several bids did not follow the detailed bid specifications, which created problems for the commission in considering which to accept.

Layne Dyck Construction was awarded a $7,885 contract for window and door replacement. Jantz Construction was selected to construct two handicap-accessible restrooms for $4,631. Flint Hills Building Supply will supply materials for arena stage upgrades for $1,812. The combined expense for all project is $14,328.

In other business:

  • The commission deferred action on a request by Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee to purchase emergency spreaders and cutters for Hillsboro and Peabody fire departments, until all three commissioners are present to determine how to allocate funds for the purchases.
  • The commission approved an upgrade to the Noxious Weed Department’s computer software. The $3,750 expense will come out of the existing capital outlay budget.
  • Jessica Parks was approved to be hired as a 911 system operator, to replace Richard Beasley, who resigned after one week on the job.
  • A bid of $27,125 from Midway Motors for a Chevrolet 2500 general-purpose truck for Emergency Management Department was accepted.
  • Norm and Glendene Schmidt, board members for Agape Senior Center in Goessel, were invited by Holub to discuss the pending closure of the center.

The next commission meeting will be Monday at Marion County Courthouse.

Last modified Jan. 18, 2012

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