Park’s new controller attends Nov. meeting
ALMONT — The Village of Almont held their regular council meeting on November 2 and representatives from Kingsbrook Estates Mobile Home Park were in attendance to discuss Kingbrook’s past due water bill.
The mobile home park continues to struggle to keep up to date with their water bill with the debt reaching nearly $100,000 over the past year. The park has made several payment plans with the village, but has failed to maintain the agreements. Randy Merer, one of the company’s representatives in attendance, is their new controller. He’s been hired to help with the financial situation at Kingsbrook.
Last month, Manager David Trent met with the company to work on a proposal that will bring Kingsbrook up to date on their water bill.
“We have about $1,700 outstanding, my calculations, of past due water bills, plus another $11,500 of late fees or fines. That’s our past due balance. We also have a water bill that is due on November 10 for $48,000. What my proposal is would be to pay $24,000 a month, November, December, and January, and then pay $23,000 in February,” Merer said.
He said that this would catch the park up on their current bill and they would then be able to pay the next water bill in March on time. He suggested that the park would be able to even prepay on their water bill at that point. President Steve Schneider responded, explaining the process for accepting the proposal, and asking for proof that the park is not capable of making the payments currently.
“As opposed to simply taking your word for it, can you provide council with documentation, to the effect that the park is not bringing in sufficient revenue?”
The representatives from Kingsbrook agreed to send over written proof.
Jim Aleck, councilmember, questioned Merer and the others, asking, “If we accept this offer that you’ve laid out, would you have a problem adding on a bottom line, that if you don’t meet the schedule that you set up, the next business day, we can shut your water off, like we do anyone else in town?”
President Schneider explained that a shut off clause would not need to be added, saying “the only way water can be shut off is if council orders it.”
Aleck pressed the issue, concerned that the park is receiving special treatment over other village residents. “Everybody else in town would be shut off. I don’t care if it’s one person or the car wash or an apartment building. They would be shut off,” he said.
“We have full authority to do that if they are delinquent,” fellow council member Melinda Steffler replied.
Merer, Kingsbrook’s controller responded to Aleck as well saying, “I agree with everything you said. I have a water bill myself and I’m responsible for it.”
The park’s proposal to the village also included a request to waive the late fees. “One of the asks, if we go through a period of time, whatever that may be, is that the late fees be waived,” Merer expressed.
Nick Giacalone, councilmember, questioned this proposal, “So, you don’t plan on paying the late fees in this payment plan?”
Merer explained that the fees were not included in this proposal, but could be added in if the council rejects the proposition.
Giacalone disagreed with waiving the late fees.
“Personally, I don’t think the late fees should be waived. We keep kicking it down the road,” he said.
Jackie Calka, Councilmember, agreed with Giacalone. Tim Dyke, President Pro-Tem disagreed, asking his cohort to entertain the idea.
“They are finally here, thank you. We have asked five or six times for them to come. If they need a little help, I say we give it to them,” Dyke said.
President Schneider explained his position noting, “We are working with new management, which could be an indication that there will be a turnaround. It presents an opportunity for improvement, compared with past performances. It’s easy to say we are going to shut your water off, if we were only affecting park management.”
When it seemed that the council could not find common ground in regards to the late fees, Merer asked they would be willing to postpone the conversation about the penalties until March and then, if all of the payments have been made, it could be reconsidered then.
Village Manager David Trent encouraged Council to consider that idea.
“I think if we reassess in March, I think that’s a reasonable request,” he said.
Aleck, hesitant to agree to a payment plan, said, “I can promise you if this payment plan passes through, and a payment is missed, I will be the first one to scream ‘shut it off.’”
Opposing the threat of a shut off at this point, Dyke argued that the council should try working with the new controller and give the park a chance to follow through with the proposal.
“This situation needs to be fixed. Throwing the hammer fully down, or to start throwing wrenches at this point, I don’t think the plan will be successful,” he said.
Dyke then went on to make a motion to agree with the proposal from Kingsbrook, deferring the payment of late fees and discussion of payment of the late fees until March 2022. Wayne Glasser supported the motion and it passed in a vote.