The Marceline City Council met Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. to approve a city employee’s bid for repairing the Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The council also made plans to join a new healthcare plan, made a consensus decision on a new library tax levy and set a date for their annual budget meeting.
The Marceline City Council unanimously approved Bill No. 18-09.041 to accept Oldham Monument Company’s bid to make 17 individual repairs at Mount Olivet Cemetery. The council had to pass a special bill in order to authorize the bid because Oldham Monument Company is owned by city employee Ed Ewigman.
Like many city governments, Marceline has an ordinance, which strictly prohibits entering in contracts with city employees. Ordinance No. 16-09.40 states “City officers, or employees from entering into any contract with the City for the purchase, or sale, or any commodity, or service to the City, or for any such officer, or employee to sell, or purchase from the City any commodity or service.” However, the same ordinance also states, “if the Council shall find that the interests of good government and the welfare of the general public of the City shall require deviation from the prohibitions hereby established, then the Council shall enact an enabling ordinance expressly authorizing such deviation."
According to Marceline City Manager Rich Hoon, this policy is unique.
“In all of my time working with governments, I have never seen anything like this,” Hoon said.
The ordinance was checked with legal counsel. After checking with the city’s lawyer, Hoon learned the city could hire a city employee to make repairs at the cemetery after making sure it was okay with the city council. After a small debate, the city decided unanimously.
Councilwoman Liz Cupp says the repairs are important.
“This is something that just needs to be taken care of,” Cupp said.
The city put out a request for bid (RFB) with bids due Aug. 30. The city put out the RFB in newspaper ads, an online listing and even contacted businesses in the area directly, but the only bid received was from Ewigman.
The city decided to allow Oldham Monument Company to use the city’s excavator. Ewigman gave two bids, one for $2,395, if his company could use the city’s excavator and another bid of $2,595, if he could not. The council chose the lower bid to reduce costs. Oldham Monument Company will begin making repairs to 17 individual grave markers later this month. Ewigman works with the city’s street department.
The bill passed does not allow for other city employees to be hired by the city. The bill was specially passed and only allows the city to hire Oldham Monument Company for this specific instance. If this scenario should come again, the council would need to approve another unique bill.
The Marceline City Council came to a consensus to vote on adding a library tax levy to the city’s April ballot. The Marceline Library Board wants to add a 4-cent tax levy increase to the Marceline April ballot. The tax levy increase would be the library’s first since 1996.
Library board members asked Marceline residents what they thought about the tax levy increase. The board received 108 signatures on their petition seeing if the community would be okay with a tax levy increase.
According to Marceline Library Board member Barb Meissen, she believes residents are receptive to the idea.
“We’ve talked to community members and they want the library to stay the same, or get better,” Meissen said.
Currently, the library has receives a tax levy of $0.21 of $100 of assessed valuation. The current tax levy brings in about $50,000 annually to keep the library running. The 4-cent increase would bring the tax levy up to $0.25 of $100 of assessed valuation and would reflect a roughly $10,000 increase in annual funding.
The council will vote to include the library tax levy on the April Linn County Municipal Elections ballot next month. The next council meeting is set for Oct. 16.
The Marceline City Council met with their healthcare broker to discuss a new healthcare plan for the city Sept. 25. Marceline City recently learned their current healthcare provider Lifestyle Health Plans would be dropping their coverage Oct. 31, 2018. In an email dated Sept. 4, a representative from Lifestyle said they would be terminating their plan and the city would not be allowed to renew their plan for 2019. The city is being dropped do to their claims history.
Marceline healthcare broker Jason Weydert says the city employees need a new plan.
“[Lifestyle] isn’t going to renew us, so there’s no option to go back,” Weydert said. “We to start over with a new provider.”
Weydert gave the council a few plans to look over, which were comparable to their previous plan. Previously, the city was paying about $16,000 to $17,000 per month for city employees healthcare. Of the plans Weydert showed the council, all of them would be more expensive than their previous plan.
The council agreed they would proceed with a plan from UnitedHealthcare. According to Weydert, United had the most competitive plan, which would include many of the benefits the city was already receiving. The council will work on finalizing the plan during their October budget meeting.
Marceline City Clerk Lindsay Krumpelman says the city needs to pick a plan quickly.
“We need to start early, so we can set everything up,” Krumpelman said. “It’s best to pick a new company, as quickly as possible.”
In other business, the council set their annual budget meeting. The city council chose Oct. 9 to begin meeting about the new budget. The new budget is set to be voted on during the Oct. 16 council meeting, but the vote can be pushed back, if the council needs to meet more regarding the budget. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9.