The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 7, 2012

Council to vote on street light fee Monday

MANKATO — The Mankato City Council is proposing a street light utility fee that will be paid by all properties, including nonprofits, to spread out the cost among more users.

The council will vote on the measure Monday night. With the majority of council members in support, it likely will pass, said Councilman Jack Considine. The average property owner would pay $2.50 per month.

“Quite frankly, it makes sense,” Considine said. “We’re taking the same amount of money we’re using for street lights and we’re taking that out of property taxes. ... Everybody who uses street lights are going to pay into (a street light fund), including hospitals and the university. It gets spread out a little farther.”

About $500,000 is in the city’s general fund to be directed to street light costs. If the measure passes, that cost will be taken out of the city budget, and a fee will be charged to all properties, which will be paid monthly beginning in January and will be included in city utility bills, said Council President Mike Laven.

Laven said nonprofits (public schools, hospitals, government entities and the Salvation Army, as examples) will be kicking in about $139,000 of the cost, which he said helps ease the burden for many property owners. About 3 percent of Mankato properties are tax exempt, but they make up more than 22 percent of the land mass, said City Manager Pat Hentges.

However, Laven said the savings in property taxes will be about the same as the fee itself.

“It is a dollar-for-dollar reduction (for most property owners),” Laven said. “To make it harder to calculate, we have rising health care, gas and electric rates that eats all of the $500,000 and more. So some properties will see reductions, while others may see increases.”

Hentges said while most property owners won’t save money, the goal wasn’t simply to shift $500,000 out of the budget to help keep the levy down, although that was part of it.

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