Marion may increase utility bills

Staff writer

The City of Marion is considering a utility rate increase after a preliminary budget draft found the city to be $60,000 over budget for 2013-14.

Administrator Doug Kjellin said Monday at a City Council budget workshop that the city could make drastic cuts from already slimmed departments or raise utilities rates.

Kjellin and Clerk Angela Lange plan to present their draft of the budget next week. Mayor Mary Olson asked them at Monday’s meeting to find where cuts could be made.

“We’re pretty much trimmed as far as we can be in all departments,” Kjellin said.

Councilmen Chris Meierhoff, Jerry Kline, and Olson said they would prefer a compromise of more cuts and a smaller utility increase.

“Sometime we’re going to have to bite the bullet and raise money somehow,” Meierhoff said. “We can take a small beating now and raise rates a little, or a big one later and raise them a lot.”

Kjellin said drastic cuts could be made to account for the $60,000, but he was worried about rising energy prices. So are city residents.

Nicky Hoffman of Marion said Tuesday morning that she thinks her utilities are high enough.

“I’d be mad if the city raised them,” she said. “If it’s for a desperate need, fine, but if it’s for another idiotic project, definitely not!”

Among the increased costs Kjellin wants to budget for are, purchase a new backhoe, pumping out of city sewage lagoons, and starting a street sealing program.

The council also hopes to set a final number Monday for proposed borrowing to pay for street repairs.

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