Council Approves Radio, Transit Dispatch Improvements and New Recycling Truck

Marion City HallMarion City Council on Monday approved resolutions to upgrade radios for the Central Garage as well as the Streets and Sanitation Departments. They also approved new software and hardware for Marion Area Transit, the purchase of a new recycling truck, and issued the initial selection of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects.

The City plans to purchase the new radios from Bender Communications. Motorola had been offering a rebate, but it had expired. They agreed to extend the rebate through Bender for the City.

Councilman Dale Osborn expressed concerns that the City may be required to bid out the purchase because of the amount of dollars involved. Mark Bash, supervisor of the Central Garage Services, said that because the funds were coming from, and the radio going to, three separate departments, they would not need to be bid. He said it would essentially be three separate purchases, just made at the same time.

Bash said the new radios, which operate on a narrow band, will be and upgrade for the City and will allow better communications to the entire City. Currently, there are some areas where the radios are spotty or do not work altogether.

City Council also approved the purchase of new software and hardware for Marion Area Transit to be used in dispatching buses. Jeff Marsh, Director of MAT, said the new equipment will consist of a tablet computer and GPS unit installed in each bus as well as terminals and servers at the MAT building. He said the upgrades will make dispatching a bit more efficient and should save about 10 percent on the amount of fuel used because of the increased efficiencies.

The upgrades, which will run about $125,000, are expected to be completely paid for by the Ohio Department of Transportation, but that fact has not been confirmed in writing. Originally, ODOT said that the City of Marion would have to pay about $57,000 for the project. City Service Director Jay Shoup said he told ODOT that Marion would not be able to pay for their portion and ODOT then offered to pick up the entire cost. Shoup said he was assured they would pay during a meeting earlier this month, but has not received written confirmation.

City Auditor Kelly Carr said she has some concern that there is no written confirmation. Councilman Osborn shared in that concern, saying it isn’t that he doesn’t trust Shoup’s word, but that he wants to make sure the City is completely covered and doesn’t find itself having to pay $57,000.

Shoup said he is confident that ODOT will fund the entire project, partly because he said ODOT values the work of MAT. He said Marion is the largest rural transit system in the state “by far” and operates about 750 runs per day. Shoup said ODOT wants Marion to get the software and equipment upgrades to help MAT increase their services.

Osborn’s concerns led to Council amending their resolution to add that their approval was contingent on receipt of written confirmation from ODOT.

City Council approved an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fund Project #21 for the Marion Municipal Airport. The project will rehabilitate the longest runway at the airport and will replace the storm water drainage in the infield area. The City will pay 10 percent of the project (about $30,000) which will come from a special fund. No General Fund dollars will be used for the project.

Council also held the first reading of the selection of projects to be funded through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The projects would include paving of the Union and Holmes Streets, paving for the Boys & Girls Club playground area, and funding for Fair Housing initiatives. A public hearing on the selections will be held at the next City Council meeting on May 28.

The purchase of a new recycling truck was also approved. The City will be responsible for a third of the cost. The truck is expected to be delivered in late fall following required modifications.

About Sean DeWitt

Sean DeWitt is an owner of Neighborhood Image and Marion Online. Sean is a board member of Boys & Girls Club of Marion County and involved with various other non-profits including Downtown Marion, EnVISIONing Marion County, and more.