Some of our restaurants are starting to open abiding by the 25% rule, while other businesses will open later this month according to the plans the governor has laid out. They say it is a welcome relief and can’t wait until they can fully open someday. I appreciate their commitment to keeping Marion safe and wish them the best of luck.

The Architectural/Building committee that I set up originally to look at ways for us to have a new city hall has begun exploring other ideas. The committee members are council members David Bauch and Chris McClain along with the City Secretary Maria Hernandez and myself. We decided that we didn’t need a new city hall and would spend way too much money for it, instead we should utilize the old city hall building that was built in 1955 and the city hall annex which is the current Municipal Court/Council Chambers/Mayor’s Office.

We have been working on this for a while and have presented a viable plan to the council for their approval. It has taken many man hours of meetings, discussions and putting plans together to get this right. The original basis for this came from an idea that the police department should have its own space or building for both security and usability reasons. With a few modifications, it will become the Marion Police Department’s office.

The majority of the work will be on what we refer as the old city hall building, but in the future we hope to refer it as the newly remodeled City Hall.

The very first item on this part of the agenda was for us to explain to the council how we arrived to this conclusion. We explained that we worked on a Request for Proposal that was advertised in the paper and then brought those proposals to the council to approve one of them in our third motion of the evening.

The first motion was made and seconded by council members to approve the concept of relocating the city hall from the portable building back to where we were originally, and move the police department into their own building. Before the vote we were able to explain a few the reasoning behind the proposal,which were we wanted to save money and be back in something that was ours and not rented.

The motions were passed in a 4-0 vote to the complete project, with one councilman unable to attend the meeting because of a work related conflict.

The second motion dealt with how we are going to pay for this. We had on hand Duane Westerman from SAMCO, the city’s financial advisor company, to explain the plan going forward. Even by borrowing the money, we can pay it back under the current tax structure (no new taxes) in a five-year period with a yearly savings of half of what we are currently paying for the portable building that is in use.

I am happy to say that even with the asbestos removal, monitoring, state required reporting and remodeling of the city hall plus the work to be done at the police department, we will be paying quite a bit less yearly than if we were to stay in the portable.

All we have heard from our citizens is why are you in there and how much is it costing us by being there? I believe we have a viable plan and I want to thank the council members, for their faith in this project and the willingness to look for cost savings for our citizens. Look for more improvements to come in Marion.

Victor Contreras is the mayor of the city of Marion and writes a monthly column which appears every first Thursday.

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