MARSHALL - The Marshall City Council approved both new voting wards and new fire service agreements with surrounding townships at its regular meeting Tuesday night. The former action item will mean a change for some Marshall residents who currently vote in Wards 2 or 3, while the latter item will mean higher service fees for townships contracting with Marshall for fire protection.
New wards proposed for the city would help balance out population growth in Marshall's Ward 2 during the past 10 years, city officials said. This would happen by making Ward 1 larger. The new section of Ward 1's boundaries would run along Southview Drive, Saratoga Street, College Drive and West Marshall Street. None of the current city council seats would be up for re-election under that plan.
The council approved the new wards unanimously. Once city wards are approved, Lyon County can also begin its redistricting process for county commissioner districts.
The updated fire contracts brought before the council would raise the fees charged to townships for Marshall Fire Department services to $228 per section of land in the fire zone. The current rate is at $190 per section. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said the fee increases reflected a new formula that tries to distribute fire costs more fairly between the city of Marshall and townships.
Marshall Fire Chief Marc Klaith said that while the jump in fees "hasn't been an easy sell," the Marshall Fire Department is continuing to meet and work with surrounding communities and townships on the issue. Martig added that so far, the city has received signed contracts from all but two townships in Marshall's fire zone.
"It's time," council member Mike Boedigheimer said of the change in contracts. The city has been subsidizing townships for fire costs since he was on the fire department, Boedigheimer said.
The council voted to approve the new fire agreements.
Later on Tuesday's meeting, the council reconsidered the issue of a pair of deferred special assesments on properties outside the city limits. The city had adopted and then deferred the assessments, in case the land was ever added to the city or wished to hook up to city utilities.
However, the assessments were challenged in court, and Marshall City Attorney Dennis Simpson recommended deleting the assessments as part of a settlement.
A motion to delete the assessments failed at the city council's March 13 meeting.
At Tuesday's meeting, a motion to reconsider the decision passed 6-1, with council member Jennie Hulsizer casting the no vote.
Council member Charlie Sanow said he had reconsidered his stance on the issue, especially since leaving the assessments in place could open the city up to additional court costs.
"I would prefer not to pay a few thousand dollars," Sanow said. However, he added he was disappointed that the deferred assessments turned out to be a bad idea.
Boedigheimer said he was concerned that a future buyer of either of the properties might not find out about the assessments before they made the purchase.
"I have a real big problem with that," he said.
A pair of votes, one for each property, approved deleting the deferred assessments. Both times, the council was split 5-2 in favor of the deletion, with Boedigheimer and Hulsizer voting against the deletion.