Connecting links 'hot button topic' between county, Marion

Staff reporter

Despite a request by Marion County Commission to postpone a meeting with members of Marion City Council the afternoon of Feb. 25, the council was determined to be heard.

The county commission had asked the city council to reschedule discussions about connecting links and land acquisition for a new law enforcement facility because commissioner Dan Holub had become ill and left the meeting. The remaining commissioners did not see a point in having the city make a presentation when a full board was not in attendance.

However, when a telephone call was made to Mayor Mary Olson, Olson insisted the city remain on the agenda.

Also in attendance were councilmen Bill Holdeman, Jerry Kline, and Stacey Collett, and city administrator David Mayfield.

Mayfield said the City of Marion and the council wanted to bring to the attention of the commission that they were awaiting information and a proposal from the county commission regarding changes to a 1973 resolution that reimbursed cities for maintaining city streets that connected with county roads.

The 35-year-old resolution stipulates that the county provide a total of $302 to the City of Marion each year for street maintenance of those connecting links.

In June 2007, Mayfield said the commission had decided to draw maps to indicate connecting links within each city. Each commissioner was to come to the towns within their districts to discuss the connecting links project. However, that never occurred.

Commission chairman Bob Hein told the city council that the commission was willing to listen to the presentation but would not make any decisions without a full commission.

"This commission believes it served the public by providing South Third Street," commissioner Randy Dallke said.

During the time frame of when the project was first discussed and when the project was completed, costs had doubled, Dallke said.

After the county completed the South Third Street/Sunflower Road project, Dallke said only one person thanked him for the improvement.

"I would think that street project was better than $302 per year," he said.

Mayor Mary Olson commented that the county was reimbursed for the road project.

"No we weren't," Dallke said. "KDOT (Kansas Department of Transportation) paid us (the county) $400,000 for a project that was more than $700,000."

It was estimated that each mile cost the county nearly $80,000.

"We want the cost per mile in the connecting links program to increase," Olson said.

Dallke responded that the commission was aware that it needed to increase.

Mayfield then pointed out that the west half of North Cedar Street from Kellison Street to U.S.-56 actually was owned by the county because the city limits end at Kellison and then run down the middle of Cedar Street.

Even though the county owns half of that street, the city is willing to remain responsible for it, Mayfield said.

The City of Marion recently received grant and loan funds for a new overlay on North Cedar Street. Mayfield said the city was not asking the county for any money for that project.

He was asking the county to consider a reimbursement to the city for maintaining North Cedar Street.

Olson said the city was seeking $2,500 per year for both North Cedar and South Third streets.

"That's fair enough," Dallke said.

Kline asked the commission to be fair.

"I just hope everybody is fair about this and you treat everybody the same as us," he said to the commission.

Dallke noted that the portion of overlay on South Third Street within the city limits cost the county $15,000-$20,000. Two years ago, the county spent $10,000 at Peabody with a street project.

Dallke said he would rather see the county assist cities with specific projects instead of the county being "hounded" by a 1973 agreement.

Olson said the county commission cannot do every project that every town requests and the commission needed to be fair.

No discussion was initiated between the two entities regarding the land acquisition topic.