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Cross words preceded hiring stalemate

Staff writer

Discussion about hiring a Herington employee for $1,800 a month to spend two days a week doing building inspections and code enforcement in Marion turned a bit heated Tuesday.

Apparently tired of council member Ruth Herbel’s questions, member Zach Collett told her, “We’re way off base and I’m not going down that rabbit hole.”

Herbel asked whether an existing city employee could get a raise and trained for the job.

“We’re going to pay him $1,800 to come down here two days a week,” Herbel said. “I just think it would be better to give someone a $1,000 raise.”

Herbel also asked whether a new city administrator might know how to do building inspections and code enforcement.

“Do you think the city administrator can give up two days a week to do this?” Collett asked.

Although Herbel stopped asking questions, her anger was written on her face.

“I thought he was very rude,” she said later. “I have the right to ask questions at the council meeting.”

When council members voted, the proposal to hire the inspector went nowhere. A split 2-2 vote, with councilman Chris Costello absent, quashed the idea.

“Zach got payback because Jerry (Kline) and I both voted against that contract,” Herbel said later. “We’re supposed to all get along and all play together in the same sandbox. I was just really upset when I got out of there tonight.”

In other matters, council members voted to hire Wichita State University’s Public Policy and Management Center to lead Marion through making a five-year strategic plan.

The process will involve six to eight meetings with focus groups to hear from community members. The groups will be made up of business leaders, civic groups, faith leaders, or partner organizations.

One public meeting will attempt to generate broader community engagement.

Surveys will identify community priorities.

The strategic plan is to include a vision and mission statements, goals, strategies, performance measures, deciding who is responsible to accomplish actions steps, and a timeline to implement the plan.

The Public Policy and Management Center estimates it could begin as early as July 1.

Cost will be $24,800.

On another matter, difficulties with the way storm sirens functioned the last time they were needed in Marion has led to a change in the way residents will be notified of severe weather.

Police chief Clinton Jeffrey told council members emergency sirens would sound in a continuous blast throughout the emergency instead for five minutes.

An all-clear notice will be given through the city’s Code Red and Everbridge notification systems and posted on the city’s social media page.

Last modified June 1, 2022

 

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