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Landlord wants W’bago water bill reduction

November 18, 2012
by Lacey Sawatzky - Register Staff Writer (lsawatzky@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

An unhappy property owner disputed a very costly water bill at the Winnebago City Council meeting on Tuesday.

David Markle, who owns a house which he had rented out, received notice that the outstanding water bill was going to be assessed to his property taxes.

Markle addressed the City Council at the Nov. 13 meeting, regarding his concern over this bill.

He had been notified by the city that the amount of $4,676.49 was going to be assessed to the property taxes if he didn't pay the bill.

"I think the city should seriously consider assuming some responsibility for this,"?Markle says.

The tenants of the 457 First Ave. S.W. home were named on the water bill. Therefore, Markle hadn't been notified of the large amount due until several months later.

According to a report given by Rick Mauris, the head of the Public Works Water Department, two months of very high water usage was recorded.

He also stated that the water was shut off on Aug. 30 but was turned back on because a payment plan had been worked out between the city and the tenants.

"Someone used the water, that's the bottom line,"?Councilman Scott Robertson says. "We'd like to work something out that's manageable for you."

The council has heard similar issues from various property owners in the past.

"We've never forgiven a water bill in the past,"?council member Stacy Huntington-Scofield adds. "That's a risk you take as a property owner or business person."

Chris Ziegler, who will be stepping in as the new city administrator in December, was in the audience and made a recommendation to council for a possible solution to lessen the bill for Markle. "In past situations like this, we have removed any late fees to make the amount a little more manageable,"?he says.

The council agreed that removing the late fees and waiving any interest on the remaining amount should make the bill easier for the property owner to pay.

Markle made a payment of $2,000 toward the bill at the meeting and the remaining amount will be assessed to his taxes and should be paid over a three-year period.

The issue then led the council to discuss the possible need to create a policy regarding correspondence and billing.

"If we do try to write a new policy about this, we need to keep in mind that we just decided to change our policy on sending out late utility bill notices,"?Huntington-Scofield adds.

The council made no further decisions on whether or not to create a new policy for this matter.

In other business;

The City Council swore in a new member to the council after the election results were approved, to fill the remaining time of Ziegler's term, who had resigned from the council in October.

Jean Anderson, who had received 400 votes in the recent Nov. 6 elections, was appointed to fill the unexpired term.

The library board presented a new policy that will become effective at Muir Library.

The unattended youth policy states that all children under the age of eight must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult over the age of 16.

Notices will be sent home with any family that continues to have an issue with this policy.

The council reviewed three bids for a tree trimming service.

The three bids included; Huston at $175 an hour, Pfeffer at $175 an hour and Dave Wiltse at $150 an hour.

The council agreed to go with Pfeffer as they have worked with them in the past and are comfortable working with them again.

"I didn't expect to receive more than one bid,"?Robertson adds.

 
 

 

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