The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 30, 2014

Apartment owners plead for rate break

(Continued)

Her company's properties will be paying an additional $50,000 a year in water fees because of the change, she said. And once existing leases expire, the costs will be passed on to already strapped students via higher rents.

"I feel sorry for the kids," Dolan said. "I tried. And if they're unhappy with it, I wish they'd contact the council. And vote. Start voting."

Hentges strongly disagreed with the theory the city was targeting young renters because they aren't engaged in city government and wouldn't complain about having to pay more. The new policy simply requires everyone who wants access to water to pay the monthly service charge regardless of whether they rent an apartment, rent a home or own a home.

"Basically, everybody pays the same," he said.

Council President Chris Frederick said he was struggling to understand why apartment dwellers should be exempt from the monthly access fee that homeowners must pay. Others on the council, including Mayor Eric Anderson and Councilwoman Karen Foreman, said they'd be willing to look at alternatives before the 2015 budget takes effect but weren't interested in making a change before the July 1 implementation of the new policy.

"I'd like to see this discussion happen," Foreman said. "... Middle ground can be reached."

Councilman Jack Considine said he wants to make sure owners of single-family homes are also represented in any discussions.

"We also need to include the homeowner associations," Considine said.

And Councilwoman Tamra Rovney said any changes would have to be judged in the context of whether savings to apartment dwellers result in a higher burden for other water users.

"We also have to look at what Chris brought up," Rovney said. "Is it fair?"

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