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County commission reaches agreement with lake group

Staff writer

The Marion County Commission and Friends of Marion County Lake came to an understanding Monday, setting rental fees for trailer homes at $1,200 a month. The agreement was preceded by a contentious discussion at the regular commission meeting.

The discussion between representatives of the Friends of Marion County Lake and Marion County Commission intensified when the group’s president Jim Bratt said that specific rules the commission outlined for trailers at the lake were illegal.

“I want to caution each of you — have any of you researched the laws?” Bratt said. “I think some of these are a violation. The inspections are completely illegal.”

Citing the Kansas landlord mobile homes recreational tenant act Bratt said the safety inspections stated in the current draft of rules presented, went against the language of the act. The electrical and sewer line inspections would require licensed professionals he said. Marion County Park and Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson would be tasked with conducting structural and water inspections.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub fired back.

“We can solve that,” he said. “Any (trailer) over 1978 is out of the park.”

Then Holub brought up the real point of contention — the rent for trailer owners. It was discussion of the rent that started the initial controversy. The commission discussed raising rent for trailer owners last fall, bringing up a figure of $2,500 a year. With the uncertainty around rent, Bratt and Friends secretary Karen Spinden argued that trailers have been impossible to sell.

Currently, trailer owners pay a rent, including utilities, of $1,050 a year. The utility portion of that accounts to an average of $643 per year Hudson said. As he had in a previous meeting, Holub broke that number into 12-month segments, which he and Hudson calculated to just over $33 a month.

“I don’t think $33.04 is a fair price,” Holub said.

At that point, Friends of Marion County Lake representatives argued their case for a lower rent. They said the maximum number of days they could live at the lake, under current guidelines, was 132 days.

“Putting it in months is misleading,” Spinden said.

Bratt continued that trailer uses spend money in the county. He estimated that trailer users have contributed $300,000 to $500,000 to the economy. He did not have any supporting data for this claim.

Holub countered that the commission had offered Friends at Marion County Lake more available usage days in original talks involving the trailer rules.

The discussion was becoming more contentious when Commissioner Randy Dallke spoke up and calmed everyone down.

“I’m in no way ready to put a dollar amount on it today,” Dallke said. “I don’t think it needs to happen today. What I’m very disappointed about is that everybody is festered up. This group was placed together to hear what we should make improvements on.”

The commission then said they would bring the documents before County Attorney Susan Robson to check their legality. Holub said that was the normal procedure, but it usually occurred after documents were signed.

Bratt and Spinden then agreed with Holub that the rent discussion should not be spread out over a longer period of time, because it leaves the sale of trailers in limbo.

Commissioners and Friends of Marion County Lake representatives tentatively agreed on a rent of $1,200 including utilities. A three-year cap on the rent was also discussed and agreed upon.

“I consider $1,200 to be a fair and equitable number,” Spinden said. “We need to put this to bed.”

After the meeting, Bratt and Spinden agreed that the meeting was successful.

“I believe we are on the verge of coming to an agreement that benefits everybody,” Bratt said.

“I can’t wait to come up here in a stress-free environment,” Spinden said.

Last modified March 28, 2012

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