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Junked cars, homes worry Florence residents

Staff writer

Florence Council needs to crack down on the number of decrepit vehicles in the city, community member Phil Baldwin said during Monday’s council meeting.

“Just going from the restaurant to my house, I bet I drive by 10 or more cars that haven’t been moved for a long time,” he said. “Some of them are jacked up without tires and they don’t run. For some reason we’ve given them the ability that by paying money, they can keep them there.”

City ordinance allows one non-running vehicle per property with a $50 permit, as long as the vehicle is in respectable condition and surrounding grass is maintained.

The city needs to have city police officer Derek Fetrow enforce the ordinance, councilman Ken Hoffman said.

“We need to move on this kind of stuff to make this town a better place to live,” he said. “We’re going to have to have some code enforcement to go along with it.”

Fetrow has to send letters to any residents in violation of city law. They have 30 days to move a vehicle before court summons are sent.

In other business, a volunteer task force should be created to cut down on number of houses in disuse, Darla Spencer said.

“As a citizen in the community I’d like to see a task force put together where we can start addressing this,” she said.

Councilmen and interested community members will discuss possible action at a work meeting Thursday evening.

“We need to do it legally, do it smart, and do it with some force,” councilman Matt Williams said.

Bob Gayle was approved as part-time water and waste operator for the next six months until city employee Dana Gayle completes training on both systems, while employee Terry Britton receives training as her alternate.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s suggestion was to retain Gayle in both positions since a replacement would otherwise need to be found by Jan. 27 and no one else in Marion County has waste and water operator qualifications, and knowledge of Florence’s water plant.

“If you pay attention to the want ads you’ll see that water treatment plant operators are just like school bus drivers,” Baldwin said. “They’re far and few between.”

Florence’s water plant is due for upgrades, but directly replacing the system would cost between $450,000 and $500,000, too expensive for the city, according to Bob Gayle.

“For the time being, six months we need to continue on,” Hoffman said. “If that doesn’t work out then something else can be done.”

As a part-time employee, he receives workman’s compensation for any injury on the job, and will be paid a combined $125 a week.

Florence needs to require greater clarification from businesses on expenses, Mayor Bill Harris said.

“We need a much better explanation on what some of these bills are actually for,” he said. “Nothing’s itemized.

“It seems like a lot of money is going out with nothing to show for it.”

One payment that was held was a bill from accounting firm Knudsen, Monroe & Company labeled as consultation fees. The city switched firms last year to Swindol, Janzen, Hawk & Loyd.

“I’d like an explanation on what that is before we just jump out and pay that,” Hoffman said.

Florence city building will open at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Thursday.

Last modified Jan. 23, 2020

 

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