Study rates Marion as efficient city

News editor

In a study released last week, Municipal Analysis Services Inc. of Texas rated Marion as a high-performance government.

Every year, Municipal Analysis Services examines publicly available data about government budgets, revenue, and debt and compares cities and counties of similar population.

Greg Michels, who conducted the study, said the data showed Marion tapped into the financial resources available to it better than 90 percent of similarly sized city governments in the U.S.

“From a financial point of view, (the city) is in a pretty good position,” Michels said Monday.

He said the purpose of the annual study is to show governments what they can do by showing them what other governments do.

Michels noted that his study doesn’t evaluate whether the city is directing its resources to the right projects or reflecting the wishes of residents, only the financial strength and efficiency of the city.

Mayor Mary Olson was pleased to hear the city was rated as a high-performance government.

“I think our city is really working toward this,” she said.

Olson said she thought the amount of engagement, discussion, and inquiry from the council about how the city is managed contributed to the city’s efficiency.

One area of the study where Marion earned high marks was in revenue categories, with the city not dependent on a single revenue stream. Administrator Doug Kjellin said keeping stable, sustainable revenue sources has been a priority for the city since before he started as economic development director.

Kjellin said employees and city council have been very conscientious of keeping utilities self-sufficient, so they don’t have to be subsidized by the general fund. He noted that 40 percent ($80,000) of a debt for water meter replacement had been forgiven because it met standards for water conservation.

Marion was one of 30 cities in Kansas rated as high-performance governments. Council Grove was rated highest.

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