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  • Last modified 310 days ago (July 12, 2023)

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Marion City Council

Unsigned solar agreement in dispute

Staff writer

Unsigned paperwork and missing canceled checks have complicated an agreement between Spur Ridge Veterinary Hospital and the city of Marion regarding solar power.

Spur Ridge owner Brendan Kraus voiced concerns about his solar system and how the city is handling billing at city council meeting Monday.

“Initially I brought forth a concern that I was supposed to be getting carry-forward credits for over-production, and that was not being done,” Kraus told the Record on Tuesday.

Then, he said, “sometime between administrators,” the city changed its solar agreements, referencing fired administrator Mark Skiles and Brogan Jones, hired earlier this year to replace Skiles.

“So it’s morphed. Not only are they not paying the carry-forward credits but now they want me to sign a new agreement,” Kraus said.

Exacerbating the issue is that the city doesn’t have a copy of Spur Ridge’s 2014 solar agreement that is signed by the city. Jones said he found a copy that had been signed by Kraus, but the signature line for the city is blank.

Proof that Kraus paid fees to the city to set up the system —first for the original installation and then for an expansion in 2019 — also is AWOL. The city has no record of Spur Ridge paying the fee. Jones asked Kraus whether his accountant had records of payment.

Kraus said he didn’t think so.

He called the Record late Tuesday to say he had found proof of payment.

It’s not the first time the city couldn’t find records of agreements, payments, or other types of documents, council member Ruth Herbel said. At one point in the meeting, Mayor David Mayfield said “Everything I’m hearing is he said, she said.”

Kraus said that his system was installed nine years ago and operating since then. If he hadn’t paid, he asked, why would the city allow him to continue to generate solar energy?

“There’s no proof the fee was waived,” Jones said.

“Other than having this for nine years,” Kraus said in response.

On Tuesday, he stressed he wasn’t that concerned about the money.

“I think for me it’s more about we purchased this system with a set of expectations based on our agreement,” Kraus said.

On Monday, he told council members: “Who gets punished for this? I feel it’s me.”

Installing solar was a “significant” expense, he said. Spur Ridge has two buildings at the city’s industrial park.

Council members heard from Kraus and Jones, who admitted they disagreed with the other’s position.

“Currently, we are looking into the agreements and contracts for the solar system currently being used,” Jones wrote in an email Tuesday. “Council has yet to make a stance or any recommendations until we have some answers on the old documents and a legal opinion on the documents.”

Council member Kevin Burkholder suggested installing a new meter at Spur Ridge, reviewing usage and solar production for 90 days, and then “see where we are.”

“I would like to refer this to our attorney and get things done correctly,” Mayfield said.

“Not yet,” Kraus said when asked if he had hired an attorney.

Jones and Mayfield told Kraus they thought it would be to his benefit to sign a new agreement.

“No,” Kraus said.

Last modified July 12, 2023

 

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