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Landlord requests help with tenants’ unpaid water bills

Steve Lindeman asked the Park Rapids City Council on Aug. 10 to reconsider a policy that leaves landlords footing the bill when tenants move out without paying for their utility water.

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Park Rapids City Hall

A local property owner asked Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 10 to consider making a policy change that would help landlords when a tenant moves out without paying their water bill.

Steven Lindeman, who has been a landlord in Park Rapids since 2001, said this scenario “happens quite a bit,” but noted that the power companies don’t hold him responsible for tenants’ unpaid electric bills.

“If they leave, they take the bill,” he said. “But if they ever want to deal with Minnesota Energy or Minnesota Power again, they have to pay the past-due bill. That makes sense and that’s fair.”

It’s different with the water bill, he said. “Even though the person that created that bill moves into another home in Park Rapids,” the property owner is held responsible for the unpaid bill.

“This would give you an opportunity to help us out,” said Lindeman. “Saying, ‘Hey, OK, if you want water in Park Rapids, you’ve still got a water bill, you pay that or you don’t get water.’ That’s all I’m asking is, let’s be fair here.”

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Lindeman said he isn’t the only landlord who deals with this issue, and noted that technology has made it easier to track people down.

“Would you assist, or at least look at that policy … and see if you can help not only this landlord, but other landlords in town?” he asked. “Why should they go out and create another bill in the city of Park Rapids? They may not even pay that one, and move on to do another one. Some people think they can play the system and not be responsible.”

Mayor Ryan Leckner said the city will look into the issue. Council member Erika Randall’s motion referring it to staff passed unanimously.

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Paid Heiman Inc. $1,248 to purchase a 55-gallon drum of Phos-Chek, a long-term fire retardant, for the fire department.

  • Paid Davis Electric $1,734 to repair street lights on Pleasant Avenue.

  • Paid Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association $2,700 for their annual dues.

  • Paid Apex Engineering $10,051 for work on the water treatment facility, city well and Career Path projects.

  • Paid Hawkins, Inc. $1,924 to purchase and ship hydrofluosilicic acid and azone, water treatment chemicals.

  • Paid Girtz Excavating $4,020 for emergency water main repairs on U.S. Hwy. 71 North.

  • Paid Park Rapids Ford $2,239 for parts, labor and front-end alignment repair of a police vehicle .

  • Paid J & J Excavating $222,936 for work on the Career Path street improvement project.

  • Paid Heartland Lakes Development Corporation $12,000 for the second quarter of 2021.

  • Paid BerganKDV $23,350 for auditing the city’s 2020 financial statements and accepted the final audit report for the city’s 2020 finances, presented on June 22..

  • Approved the low quote of $5,335 from Fastenal of Wadena to purchase storage shelves and cabinets for the public works storage building. Another bid was received from Grainger Industrial Supply of Fargo.

  • Authorized the mayor and city administrator to accept grant funding offered by the Federal Aviation Administration and Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics. Specifically, the FAA awarded the city a $650,623 Airport Improvement Program grant to fund 90 percent of the 2021 portion of the municipal airport’s terminal area taxilanes project. Weasner said later that the multi-year project is expected to cost $1.06 million, adding, “We anticipate an amendment at the end of the year, when the federal fiscal year begins, for an additional amount to be added to this grant.”

  • Authorized the mayor and city administrator to contract with Blombeck Construction, Inc. of Eagle Bend, Minn. for construction of the airport taxilanes project. Blombeck submitted the apparent low bid of $901,601.

  • Approved a trade of eight police department-owned firearms to Smokey Hills Outdoor Store for store credit and the purchase of three Beretta 12-gauge patrol shotguns with tactical night sights for $3,090 out of the department’s forfeiture fund. The used firearms to be traded included three squad shotguns, a SWAT rifle, a training rifle and three forfeited long guns with a total trade-in value of $2,360.

  • Approved a proof for the “Ant-Venture” sign at Deane Park.

  • Accepted the 2020 Financial and Investment Reporting Entry for the Park Rapids Fire Relief Association.

  • Acknowledged donations to the city from July 21 to Aug. 2, totaling $24,290. These included gifts totaling $23,400 toward rebuilding the Depot Park tennis courts and $700 to Park Rapids Library programs.

  • Approved payables totaling $325,542 and prepaids totaling $197,509.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 at city hall.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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