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Mayor, staff split on when to budget

Staff writer

Marion mayor Mike Powers’ attempt to have city council members discuss budgetary needs June 10 met with objections Monday from clerk Janet Robinson and interim administrator Mark McAnarney.

Both suggested waiting until property valuations come in June 15 and a consultant from the Loyd Group goes over them June 24 so department heads would have a better idea how much money they could spend.

“The guys aren’t going to have anything until we talk to the Loyd Group about where we’re at,” Robinson said, referring to how much tax revenue might be available.

“I don’t understand that,” Powers replied. “They still should be able to go through and say things they think they need, and then obviously those would be something that would be cut if we get the information from the Loyd Group that we don’t have money to do those things.”

Robinson said needs could change depending on whether money was available, but Powers said needs were needs, whether money was available or not.

“That’s what I want to know: What do we need?” Powers said. “I want the council to be able to sit down and look at what Mark and staff have been looking at and what different departments want and so on, and look at that before we actually have any kind of an actual budget hearing.”

Such meetings are common among other governmental bodies.

Operating under the same timeline for receiving appraisal figures, county commissioners already have met with county department heads to discuss needs.

In Marion, however, no such meeting occurred last year. To the chagrin of several council members at the time, the budget was presented at the last minute, largely as an accomplished fact. The only discussion had been what tax rate the city wanted to impose.

In the end Monday night, Powers appeared to relent, saying “nobody wants to do it” so he would be willing to reschedule budget discussions to July, after the Loyd Group and assessment figures have arrived.

In other business Monday:

Restroom vandalism

Yates and police officer Aaron Slater discussed a third incident of vandalism this year at restrooms behind the Central Park stage.

This time, a stall door in the men’s room was kicked in and an attempt was made to rip it from a wall.

Earlier this year, a toilet tank in the women’s room was broken, graffiti was painted on a wall, and a soap dispenser in the men’s room was broken.

“And that’s not mentioning the poop,” Yates said, referring to fecal matter spread over a restroom.

“We have our ideas of who’s doing it, but we have no way of proving it,” Slater said.

Slater said surveillance cameras would be installed and officers, if on duty, would try to lock the restrooms at midnight, the closing time for Central Park.

A year ago, after other vandalism in the park, council members noted that cameras had been installed a decade earlier, but no one knew whether they still existed or were being monitored.

An earlier closing time will be discussed at the next council meeting.

Elgin liquor licenses

An application to the state from Historic Elgin Hotel co-owner Tammy Ensey for drinking establishment and catering liquor licenses was endorsed.

Until last August, when Ensey allowed it to lapse, the Elgin had held a license under which Kari’s Kitchen sold liquor out of the Elgin’s Parlor 1886 restaurant.

Restaurant operator Kari Newell attempted but failed to obtain a replacement after Ensey let the license lapse.

Ensey announced last week that Newell no longer would be operating the restaurant.

Chingawassa buttons

The council approved spending $720 to buy each full-time city employee a button allowing admission to Chingawassa Days concerts later this month.

Warrants paying for the buttons actually were approved before the council voted to buy them.

Spending limits

On the advice of McAnarney, who cited inflation as a reason, the city agreed to increase from $10,000 to $15,000 the amount department heads may spend for budgeted items without seeking council approval.

Enrichment director

Powers told the council that community enrichment director Margo Yates, who had planned to retire this spring, would stay on full-time until year’s end and become a part-time employee afterward, ensuring continued coordination for September’s Art in the Park event.

Other matters

The council also:

  • Discussed scheduling a meeting with contractors and citizens to explore whether city building codes should be updated. Current codes are nearly 25 years old.
  • Learned that a plan to seek money for a hiking trail from the city to the county lake had fallen through because EBH Engineering could not reach landowners in time to submit a preliminary grant proposal.
  • Was told the city has installed six boxes on fire hydrants to automatically drain water lines during the summer so city workers won’t have to manually drain them.

Last modified May 23, 2024

 

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