Jobs I’ve Had

I recently had to fill out a brief bio for a trade organization.  Looking at my work history, I realized I have been in a variety of fields.  Securities, insurance, aviation, banking, real estate and even ran my own manufacturing firm.  Now, here I am, counting up all the jobs I’ve had.  Just to see if anyone is reading this, I propose a simple game.

Count up how many jobs you’ve had.  A job, for this discussion, would mean full or part time for which you received payment.  Just hit “comment” and post your name and number of jobs you’ve had.

I’ll start:  Doug Kjellin  11



I’m looking at the clock and realize it’s less than an hour until the City Council meeting.  Twenty agenda items.  Some are pretty much just “housecleaning items” like Department Head Reports and Consent Agenda.  However, we are also hearing from our Housing Authority Director on progress at Hilltop Manor.  We will be discussing changing the trash schedule to just one pickup a week.  Refinancing the Spec Building, discussing burn issues during the month of April and even a Public Hearing regarding the south hill water project.

I know it seems there is no time to go to these kind of meetings.  It can get a little tedious wading through council questions and clarifications.  And, I have to admit, formerly only went to council meetings in other cities for official real estate business, so I understand.

But please stay aware of municipal government issues.  Fuel is not getting cheaper, our streets are not getting newer and nobody wants to use the “T” word (taxes).  We have to be creative and resourceful in how we run the business that is the City of Marion.  I think you are pretty smart bunch (not only because you’re reading this).  I’m open to ideas.  We have to pull together and get our best money-saving thoughts “on the table”.

There may need to be a reduction in some services instead of raising utility rates or “T’s”.  I’ll try to keep you informed of the bigger issues and hopefully you will speak to me or the council on the best path we should take.

Well, that’s all for now.  Gotta make it to the meeting!

Small Favors

It has been a good week for the town and our levee system.  We got notification that FEMA is amending their accreditation guidelines.  In summary, they will now “temporarily withhold issuing Final Determinations for those communities whose levees do not meet accreditation requirements”.  Seeing that our deadline is August 11, 2011, this is very good news.  The levee accreditation process will continue, but at a more reasonable pace.

If that wasn’t good enough, we also have some cooperation from the US Corp of Engineers concerning the inspection deadline this June.  Since we have taken a very aggressive approach to meeting this time line, it appears the inspection will be more around this fall.  That gives us a few more months to get all the trees cut and removed.  The work has to be done, but a little extra time will help immensely in doing the job right.

Marketing Marion

If you are reading this, you must have followed the link on the Marion website homepage.  Thank you for checking.  I guess I’ll explain why this blog exists.

As everyone is reminded daily, it hasn’t been a real good economy for a while.  Efforts in traditional Economic Development (existing business expansion, new business creation and relocation to Marion) have been difficult, at best.  But that doesn’t mean the City of Marion should relax in recruiting opportunity for our community.  Here’s where this blog comes in.

We are quickly becoming accustomed with internet and electronic device usage.  E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other social sites all relay information quickly and reliably.  This technology allows for direct marketing to interested parties and it is basically free.  I say “free” only in that there is no need for printing glossy brochures and there are no advertising charges.

Without getting real technical (because I really don’t understand it, myself), with every “hit” of a site, a thread is established that assists search engines in finding sites.  The more threads established means a greater chance of getting searchers electronically into Marion.

It is my hope that through effective social media marketing we can invite people into Marion via electronic means.  Then we might actually physically see visitors, business prospects and opportunity.  Did I mention that all of this is “free”?

So feel free to “click around” sites pertaining to Marion.  There is quite a selection at the bottom of our website homepage (  You might be a vital part of our Marion Social Media Marketing Plan!

The Balance

I am now starting month three in the new position.  I’m already looking at 2012 budget issues.  It brings to mind a definition of economics, I learned while in college.  “Economics is the attempt to satisfy unlimited wants and needs with limited resources”.  This best sums up the budget process.  I’m starting from a broad perspective and will slowly work down to the details.

Now as for the title of this blog, The Balance comes into play in satisfying city needs such as streets, water, sewer, levee certification, etc., with the revenue streams created though taxation, utility revenue and various state and federal reimbursements and assistance.  So, while I’m up here at a bird’s eye level, I’m coming to some preliminary conclusions.

The viability of a small town is dependent on a level of service and overall “balance” of those services.  My research seems to point to our streets as the most visible manifestation of a well maintained community.  And the streets around town could definitely be improved.  An objective “grading system” shows that about one third of the streets received a “C” or “D” grade ( I prefer to NOT classify any street as an “F”).  So why not take the next three years to tackle a third of our “C” or “D” streets every year and improve them.

But how?  Chip and Seal?  Mill and Overlay?  You might say these are short term fixes and you want the street replaced.  OK, fine.  Asphalt or concrete?  Include replacing curb and gutter?  How much will this all cost?  And here is the rough part; the Street and Alley Department is not a revenue-generating department.  This means this department does not get revenue from utility sales, it gets the vast majority of it’s revenue from……you guessed it.  Mill Levy on Property Taxes.

There’s ways to fund it from other sources like additional transfers from Utility Departments, Revolving Loans and, possibly State funds (read the news and you’ll now why I stress “possibly“).  So do we take more from utility funding and ignore water line replacement?  How about our sewer lines?  Somewhere in this discussion, I hope you understand why this blog is called The Balance.

But no matter what my opinions are, the residents of the City of Marion have to be informed of the options and then communicate to the Council members and myself to help “load the scales” and find The Balance.  You tell us your thoughts,  and I will try to apply this information to the scale.  As the scale reaches a tipping point, I’ll be keeping you informed as how we need to find The Balance.