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Marion revenues on the rise as city sees early growth in 2019


News & Notes from Council Meeting

Marion saw double digit increases in sales tax collections for the months of January and February.

Treasurer David Rikard said collections were up 9.8 percent in January and 15.8 percent in February. The city collected $126,000 in January and $125,000 in February.

“Those are some good numbers,” Rikard said.

County tax collections were also up — 5.6 percent in January and 4.7 percent in February.

Councilman Bryan Jackson said the numbers marked the biggest increase the city has had in a number of years.

“That’s the best we’ve had for this time of year,” Jackson said.

Mayor Frank Fogleman also expressed his pleasure with the numbers.

“That’s good news,” Fogleman said. “Even the county side is up.”

In other business:

• James Hudson gave the City Council a list of ordinances about yard maintenance issues that he said might be helpful to make available at City Hall so residents know what they must do to comply with the law or to be able to show their neighbors or police when violations occur.

“I’ve provided you with a list of ordinances that I have built,” Hudson said.

“We want to try and keep control of our neighborhoods, especially since we don’t have neighborhood homeowners associations.”

Hudson said he plans to send the list out to his neighbors to let them know what is allowed and what is now.

“It’s just a matter of reaching out to your neighbors to let them know specifically what ordinance they need to abide by,” Hudson said. “That would allow us to stay in contact with our neighbors and at the same time minimize some of the issues that are going on in our neighborhoods where they don’t have this information or where rules are slack and people feel like they can do anything. We don’t want to get to this point.”

On another matter, Hudson, who started the community garden last summer, also asked the city if it would be possible to get a letter assigning a dollar value for volunteer work performed for the city.

“We do not have an official document that will say if you are going to volunteer at your own expense, then this is how much it is going to save the city,” Hudson said. “I really do think you need something in writing where if I were going to go cut the grass in front of city hall, that you have something written that would give us a general idea about how much it would cost to cut that grass so they can get credit for it for filing taxes. I’d like for you to put that on paper that can be verified.”

Fogleman said he would not have a problem doing that.

“So you want something in writing on city letterhead that said James Hudson did this for two hours and it has this value?”

Fogleman said. “I don’t see a problem with that.”

“Yes,” Hudson said. “And it wouldn’t just be for me.

It would be for any individual who volunteers. I think that would encourage more people to volunteer.”

• The Council heard a concern from resident Renee Conrad who said she got a written warning from Building Inspector Jerry Kelley for having a camper in their yard that has been there for years.

Conrad, who has been outspoken about the lack of communication between police and citizens, said she felt she was being retaliated against for speaking out.

“A week after that meeting, I get this lovely little notice on my front door for a camper that has sat in our back driveway for the last eight years,” Conrad said.

“It has never bothered a soul.”

Conrad said she was also followed home by police after last month’s city council meeting where she brought up her concerns about the police department.

When she contacted Kelley she was told that he had given everyone in the neighborhood a warning. Conrad pointed out that there is a camper in the front yard near Mayor Fogleman’s house and questioned whether the homeowner got a similar citation.

“To me, this seems like harassment,” Conrad said.

“I’m just throwing that out there. I don’t understand why we are getting this warning when this camper has been setting there for eight years.”

Conrad said the concrete pad was there when they bought the house and was approved by the city. They claim the previous owner had a camper on the pad years before they bought the house and that it has electricity and water and sewer hookups.

Kelley said he received about ten complaints about the camper.

“I’ve saved every text,” Kelley said. “I can show you them all.”

Kelley said Conrad complained about it on Facebook which then led to other texts from neighbors complaining about a junk truck and boat which is also in the yard.

“This stuff is still sitting there and they did not comply,” Kelley said. “And they have openly said they will not comply. I think it is time to take the next step.”

City Attorney James “Jimbo” Hale said he has not seen the warning and declined to argue the case at the meeting.

“We’re not going to have a trial on this tonight,” Hale said. “Its been noted.” Conrad said it seems like harassment.

• Building Inspector Jerry Kelley reported that there were two new home permits, no new commercial, and 27 miscellaneous permits in January. Year-todate, the city has had two new homes, zero commercial, and 30 miscellaneous.

Kelley said he expects to see three new home permits next month.

• The City Council agreed to let the Boys and Girls Club of Crittenden County use Brunetti Park for a summer youth activity program which runs June 3-August 5.

“It’s an all day program,” said Parks and Recreation Director Andy Rawls. “It’s five days a week. They will probably have 50 kids.”

• Councilman Bryan Jackson reported that the city is going to have to re-evaluate its recycling program.

The city currently gives out blue trash bags to residents who want to put their recyclable materials curbside for pickup by the city.

Jackson said the Street Department is having to tear open the bags when they get to the recycling center in Memphis which is costing a lot of time.

The city used to make some money by baling cardboard but overall Jackson said the recycling program is not paying for itself.

“Recycling is becoming more and more expensive,” Jackson said. “It’s a losing deal and it is getting worse. Gordon is reviewing it and checking with other cities to see what he can do differently. But it is definitely getting worse for us and an expense on the city. I know it is something we have already committed.

We are just trying to look at avenues to help that situation moving forward.”

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