City, mobile home park far apart on ordinance proposals

Thursday, January 24, 2002

There is still no agreement on a proposal by the City of Storm Lake to bill mobile home park owners instead of individual mobile homes. The city council debated the proposal for close to an hour at yesterday's meeting.

Clark Fort, one of the owners of the mobile home park north of IBP, was present with his attorney, Dave Patton, to discuss the proposed ordinance.

The matter was discussed at the last council meeting, and the council asked that Fort and his attorney work with the city attorney and city staff on any changes they may want to see.

The amended ordinance presented by John Call, Storm Lake city administrator, only changed the date it became effective - from March 1, 2002, to May 1, 2002 - to allow mobile home park owners more time to adjust to the changes.

"It is definitely in the best interest of the city to bill the owner and not individual mobile home owners," Call said.

Call said the reasons include the fact that distribution systems in the parks are not owned by the city, access to the meters is difficult, and meters are damaged because of exposure to the elements. These problems cost the city close to $1,000 a month in lost revenue, Call said.

Patton presented the city council with a different ordinance, which would have the city continue to bill individual mobile home owners. A reading would also be taken off the master meter for the mobile home park, he said. Any difference between the master meter and the total of the individual meters would be paid for by the mobile home park owner, he said.

"The goal was to make sure the city wasn't losing any revenue," Patton said of the alternate ordinance.

There has not been any problems with the mobile home park Fort co-owns, but there has been in Vista Estates, according to City Attorney Paul Havens. He said up to 50 percent of the meters there do not work correctly. Havens also said the city has not stayed on top of the issue in making sure mobile homes have working meters and shut off valves.

"Part of the problem is the city has let this go on too long," he said.

City council members discussed benefits of billing only the master meter and other alternatives.

"We have to protect the city, protect the staff and protect against further problems," said council person Julie Egland.

Council person Jim Treat had moved to table the ordinance to allow time for more discussions with city staff and the water department, but later withdrew that motion. "I think we need a little more discussion and research," he said.

Council person Denny Vaudt moved to pass the ordinance as proposed by the city administrator. It passed 3-2, with Vaudt, Egland and council person Wally Burns voting in favor of it. Council persons Hector Velez and Treat voted against the ordinance.

The matter will again be discussed at the next city council meeting.

In other news:

The council went into a closed session last night to discuss the possibility of a land purchase. No decision was made, and city officials declined to identify the land parcel it in interested in. One parcel under discussion recently is the Harbor House site,

The council passed the second readings of two ordinances to increase water and landfill rates.

Landfill rates will increase $1.25 per month, from $4.75 to $6.

Water rates will also increase to help pay for an expansion project at the city water plant and well field.

An average 5,000 gallon a month residential water bill will increase from $11.48 to $16.41. The monthly minimum bill will increase from $7.31 to $8.01, while the gallons in the monthly minimum will decrease from 3,253 gallons to 1,500 gallons.

The residential rate per 1,000 gallons will go up 16 cents to $2.40. Commercial and industrial rates vary with usage. They are $2.40 per 1,000 gallons for the first 10,000 gallons; $1.73 per 1,000 gallons for the next 150,000 gallons; and $1.11 per 1,000 gallons over 160,000 gallons.

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