Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

City Council directs RPU Board to consider Community Lighting Fee

The Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) Board, as directed by the Rochester City Council, was presented with a possible fee structure from staff for community lighting.

 

 

The community lighting fee will recover costs associated with installation, maintenance, service, and electricity for the community street lighting in Rochester. Preliminary fees for community lighting were discussed at the June Board Meeting.

 

Monthly Fee Outline

 

Residential

$1.82

 

General Service

$7.09

 

Medium General Service

$13.64

 

Large General Service

$92.40

 

Large Industrial

$190.23

 

 

A recommendation on the proposed community lighting fee will be considered by the Utility Board at the July 27 meeting. The recommendation on the proposal will then be forwarded to the City Council for approval on August 2.  If approved by the City Council, the fee will take effect on September 1. 

 

About Rochester Public Utilities

 

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 47,000 customers.  Water customers number more than 36,000.  RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive.  Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.

 

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57 Responses to “City Council directs RPU Board to consider Community Lighting Fee”

  1. Sherry Fields Says:

    I have to say that every month when I receive my RPU bill, it makes my stomach churn with anger. I have replaced every appliance in my home, have steel siding, energy star shingles, planted many trees, unplug almost everything I can in my home, keep lights off, temperature up or down depending upon the season, etc, etc. The “customer charges” are fully half or more of my monthly bill. I do not know how I can possibly do much more to lower my monthly expense. If this lighting fee is approved, will the city or RPU tack on a “customer charge” to this fee as was done to the storm water fee? There are many of us who struggle to pay monthly bills even if we have a job and what about those who don’t? Even a couple of dollars a month makes a difference.

  2. Scott Says:

    While the RPU does a great job providing services, I’m concerned that this fee will not free up $339,000 this year, and that if it does, that money will be used for it’s stated purpose (increase public safety). I’m concerned that this money will end up in the general fund and be used for whatever “pet projects” the city council chooses. If I can be garunteed that the fee will help to put more police officers on the street then I would support paying it.
    At this point I do not feel that the fee should be assesed.

  3. Denise Skudlarek Says:

    I think you need to give people a choice on whether they want street lights or not. We light up way too much in this city! Let’s turn some lights off!!!!!!

  4. Kevin Lucier Says:

    Increasing taxes on homeowners at a time when many homeowners are already struggling to pay the bills is a bad idea. We need to vote out any City Council member that votes for this increased tax.

  5. Jean Ellingson Says:

    1. If a lighting fee is added to RPU bills, I will expect to have trail lights on when it is actually dark out. I bike to work most of the year, and lights behind the Rec Center are never lit, making the journey rather difficult and scary.
    2. If the lighting fee is supposed to pay the salaries of four police officers, why add it to RPU bills? Call a spade a spade, not a lighting fee. I don’t object to hiring new officers, but I’d prefer to have the $1.82 on my tax bill instead of my electric bill.

  6. Jeff Jajowka Says:

    The issue I have is the amount of street lighting which we have in our neighborhood (Hart Farms South). Yes, I know this is for saftey, but way overkill. Light-pollution is my concern – I did not expect to live on something that resembled Las Vegas.

    The point is, all this lighting is driving this cost causing this fee proposal. How can I get some of these lights shut of ? I want to understand who is driving the requirement for a street light every-other house ? Street corners is sufficient.

    Please reply.

  7. Matt Says:

    I am totally for proper funding for these street lights that help in protecting our streets and do not have a problem with CHANGING the source of the money to pay for them, however if the money currently comes out of our property taxes then this should be a CHANGE in source — IE our property taxes should go down by the amount that is added to our monthly bill, not adding this new source so that some other government agency can start using the first pot — if more police officers are needed, then go through the process of increasing taxes \ etc for that.

    On another note, while I know that it probably really feasible, I don’t agree with everyone getting charged the same amount for street lights when the amount of lighting in different neighborhoods varies greatly — some neighborhoods have what seems like an over abundance of lights while other neighborhoods \ streets seem to really lack enough lights.

  8. Jim Says:

    I am sorry I think our RPU bills are full enough of fees you will have to add more paper to get everything on it. Also I think our money leaders need have money managment classes is dose not take a smart person to figer it out that if you do not have it do not spend it. Is that the way you run your home budget?

  9. Logan Says:

    Would be nice to know if home owners that don’t have street lights will still have to pay.

  10. Kathy Says:

    I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to add yet another “fee” to our electric bills. Will we be able to have our street lights turned off to keep the power bill down? I’m currently unemployed, haven’t been able to find work and am in the middle of trying a home loan modification to try and keep a roof over my head. The city of rochester wants to add to my bills? I find it unbelievable that the city can’t cut our some of it’s pet projects to find the money to hire police officers and is thinking of charging us more money!

  11. Ken Brown Says:

    This structure of moving the lighting fee to our Utility Bill is very unfair for Non-Profits, especially to Churches.

    First there are no Street Lights that provide any light for our property and
    second we have a number of parking lot lights that provide lighting for our Neighborhood and we are paying for that electric bill.

    A fair proposal would be to connect our parking lot lighting to the City Street Light system so that we could pay for the lighting we are providing via the RPU Monthly Fee.

  12. CJ Says:

    In this economy, many households are struggling to make ends meet. This is NOT the time to increase fees/taxes.

  13. Tom Says:

    Now that a fee is charged for street lights, which was earlier taken out of property tax, will $1.82 per month be reduced from property taxes?

  14. Jim Says:

    Twenty five percent of my bill is RPU fees. Shut my street light off!!!!

  15. Pam Says:

    We live within a townhome community that has all private streets. Why must we pay for street lights when we already buy, maintain, and change bulbs within our complex already?? If we need more officers, perhaps we should consider freezing salaries for council members, cut down on trip expenses, and consider other form of revenue than taxing and “surcharging” the residents of Rochester, especially those that already pay for our own lighting.

  16. Dave Says:

    This is a way to raise property taxes without calling it that – moving it from the property tax to its own doesn’t change the fact that is additive – my property taxes are not reduced by this amount. At least if its in my property taxes I can deduct it from my fed taxes (so far) – leave it there!

    And why not invest in light poles that have solar chargers built into the top of them to run the light off with light sensors to turn them on and off. The little lights I have for my yard cost about $2 each and last a few years – with NO electric usage – just rechargable batteries and a solar charger. Come up w/ something like that for street lights and replace them over time.

  17. Art Pavlish Says:

    First I must say RPU does a great job in taking care of any issues! Thank you.
    Our neighborhood was recently annexed into the City. Our electric service is Peoples Power and we have RPU services for water/sewer. We do not have street lights, (and do not want any). I pay a $5.00 storm water fee now and we do not have storm sewers in our neighborhood either.
    I too am sick with fees and customer charges. Make those part of doing business, charge fairly and accordingly.
    The light fee to pay for police is wrong. It’s the police department’s budget issue, not RPU’s. It looks like another shell game to the public.

  18. Nate Says:

    The thing I am concerned about is that the cost of lighting more expansive sprawled out areas is much higher per RPU billpayer than those in more condensed areas. It seems like it would make sense to charge people depending upon how much of their property is by the road being lighted. I know there are some streets in southeast that don’t even have streetlights. I think the cost of lighting the street and the customers benefit from it should be taken into account.

  19. D. C. Pedersen Says:

    Another writer has already responded with concerns about townhome neighborhoods where we already pay for our street lights; I concur with that concern. It seems to me that either these neighborhoods should be exempted from the fee or RPU should take over responsibility for maintenance and electrical costs for these street lights. We already pay a fee to our association for the maintenance and electrical costs of street lights. Seems unfair to pay a second time for the service we already have paid for.

  20. LINDA W Says:

    RPU should not add another fee to their already high bills. The customer charges on the electric bill,customer charges on the water bill and customer charges on the sewer bill are ridiculous.PLUS storm water fees and fees for the fire hydrants all add up to heffty RPU bills. No more fees,please

  21. Wade Hamilton Says:

    Half the city is out of work. How can you possibly even consider adding more charges to your customers bills. I am a small business owner and my work has come to a standstill. I cannot pay the utility bills right now. I have no income, my wife is on permenant disabiltiy and it has not stopped you from turning off my electricity. Please this is not the time to add any more burden to people in the city of Rochester.

  22. Greg Says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO ASK R.P.U.AND THE CITY COUNCIL WHY THEY FEEL THEY DON`T HAVE TO BUDGET LIKE THE REST OF US.WHAT THE HECK DO OUR TAXES COVER NOW A DAYS?THERE ARE SO MANY EXTRA FEES ON MY R.P.U.BILL NOW IT WOULD CHOKE A HORSE.THIS IS REALLY GETTING WAY OUT OF HAND IT IS PAST BEING A JOKE.THIS IS A FORM OF ABUSE TO THE PUBLIC THE CITY COUNCIL IS NOT IMMUNE FROM BEING REPLACED.IT`S TIME OUR CITY LEADERS START ACTING FOR THE PEOPLE AND NOT AGAINST.THEY HAVE ALL FORGOTTEN THERE PURPOSE WAS TO SERVE US NOT R.P.U.OR TO TRUMP UP NEW TAXES AND TRY TO BLOW SMOKE AT US BY CALLING IT A FEE.IT IS WHAT IT IS, IT IS A NEW TAX.GROW UP AND LEARN HOW TO BUDGET RA! RA! ROCHESTER.

  23. Amanda Says:

    No way. I pay taxes for a reason. This is one of them. If my taxes have to be raised so be it, but don’t hide it in a new fee so you can raise it next year with the proclamation that you didn’t raise taxes this year. Also, if you are performing poorly, or the economy is in the toilet, take a pay cut (or at the very least, don’t take a raise). Here’s an example: our city administrator got a raise of 3.5% in a recession year where the inflation was -.4 % according to the US inflation calculator.

  24. Steve Allen Says:

    A surcharge is just a fancy way of saying tax. Why is this being left up to city council members to decide they can add another tax to the voters. I strongly feel that the taxpaying voters should be allowed to decide. If Rochester police are having to take mandated furloughs, maybe there isn’t a need to increase the force with 4 additional officers funded with money from outside the police department budget.

  25. Wayne Says:

    First, in most residential neighborhoods, at least half, perhaps all, the street lights could be turned off at midnight or 1:00 AM or something and save money without endangering the population.
    Second, the nation as a whole has been adding more street lights and increasing the brightness of the lights for 60 years. That is not without cost. The reason for the added candlepower has been to reduce crime. I seems the crime rate continues to grow. How much have the street lights reduced crime and how were those studies conducted?

  26. Bryan Klimek Says:

    Stop playing the shell game! This is simply a creative method of collecting more tax revenue. Sure, initially the excess funds from property taxes will be used for police officers. But down the road once this is all forgotten those funds simply become part of the general fund. I agree with Sherry. The more we try to be good stewards of our resources by reduce, reuse and conserve, it just seems like it is a wasted effort.

    From my latest RPU bill:

    Energy Customer Charge . . . 14.50
    Clear Air Rider . . . . . . 1.45
    Water Customer Charge . . . 5.26
    Fire Hydrant Fac. Charge . . 1.16
    State Mandated Water Charge .53
    Waste Water Customer Charge 9.38
    Storm Water Utility Fee . . 3.09
    Storm Water Cust. Charge . . 2.50
    City Tax . . . . . . . . . . .42
    State Tax . . . . . . . . . 5.78
    —–
    Total Fees and Taxes . . . . 44.07

    I think we’ve reached the tipping point. Just say No.

  27. Gerard Says:

    My street light has been broken for three (3) consecutive months. My neighbors and I have reported this numerous times to RPU without the issue being resolved.

    I cannot fathom why I should pay a fee for a service that I do not receive. Perhaps city council should instead contract with a more reliable, cheaper firm.

    I am also perplexed as to what I am getting for the proposed 20% hike to my property taxes in 2011.

  28. jeff zervas Says:

    Enough of this under the table taxation!

    I’m no fan of street lighting anyway, especially the one just outside a bedroom, and would just as soon do without it.

  29. Laurie Says:

    We live in a newer development that has WAY too many streetlights. Some of them are shining on a street that has no houses. I would love to see the stars at night. Turn the lights off and use the savings to fund other things.

  30. Mary E Says:

    Unfortunately there really isn’t a choice- Street lighting provides a certain amount of safety in neighborhoods.Duh! (as my kids say!). The city should be paying for this – it seems they are trying to figure out a way to hire more officers without actually having to pay. This is wrong because it could lead to a disturbing change in how community services are provided. It takes a lot of nerve to actually try this! Just another thought- without city lighting at night, Rochester could need more than just 4 new police officers! All comments before mine were right on!

  31. Jim Says:

    I live in the city limits and we do not have street light, so I will pay for other nieghborhoods lights. But up some street lights in the golden hill area and I would not mind paying my share.

  32. Joe Says:

    I have a small home-built airplane at the Rochester airport. The RPU monthly service charge now runs over $30 of which I only use about 5 cents a month of power to open and close the hangar door. Looks like it’s going to cost me another $7.09 as I being charged at commercial rate! Don’t see any street lights out here. I don’t even live in Rochester. Time to sell my retirement dream – I can’t afford to fly it any more…

  33. Denise Says:

    My neighborhood’s lighting is provided by individual homeowners’ frontyard lights, which we already pay for with our individual electrical bills. Additional lighting (other than possibly one light at a Marion Road intersection) isn’t needed and could harm the wildlife in our area. It is inappropriate to charge this fee to any residential area that doesn’t have full city-provided street lighting.

  34. Kevin Says:

    Lights decrease crime, but more unpaid bills tend to increase crime. I am concerned that increasing taxes further will drive up the crime rate. People need electricity and will resort to crime when ridiculous taxes or fees make it impossible for them to pay the bill otherwise. Keep paying for the lights the way we have always been paying for them. If there is not enough money cut something out of the budget. It is what normal people have to do when our employers don’t give us raises while the cost of living increases.

  35. Dick Says:

    This issue is about more than street lights. This is about another tax on we citizens! Shame on Rochester for even considering this. Now is not the time to add new taxes – and that is what it really is. There are too many of us without jobs and struggling to make ends meet as it is. Not only in Rochester but in America.

    Nor do I think that this new tax is the appropriate way to get funding for additional police officers. Furthermore, once in place, it will continue forever, for new ‘needs’ – like our sales tax that has gained a life of its own and will only continue to increase and will never end.

    Our city leaders need to stay within the budget, cut unnecessary spending, or do without – just like we all have to do with our own incomes. If they cannot do that then they should be removed from office.

  36. wes Says:

    Hell no!

    The first post says it well…”I have to say that every month when I receive my RPU bill, it makes my stomach churn with anger. I have replaced every appliance in my home, have steel siding, energy star shingles, planted many trees, unplug almost everything I can in my home, keep lights off, temperature up or down depending upon the season, etc, etc. The “customer charges” are fully half or more of my monthly bill.”

    RPU says “The community lighting fee will recover costs associated with installation, maintenance, service, and electricity for the community street lighting in Rochester”, however everyone else says it is to hire more police…if you are going to lie to us, at least get your story straight. When I built my home 6 years ago I could see the stars at night, now it is a haze because of all lights. Maybe we all should sue RPU and the City for for light pollution. Now just wait until RPU adds a “Carbon Tax” to your bill…

  37. wes Says:

    The first post says it well…”I have to say that every month when I receive my RPU bill, it makes my stomach churn with anger. I have replaced every appliance in my home, have steel siding, energy star shingles, planted many trees, unplug almost everything I can in my home, keep lights off, temperature up or down depending upon the season, etc, etc. The “customer charges” are fully half or more of my monthly bill.”

    RPU says “The community lighting fee will recover costs associated with installation, maintenance, service, and electricity for the community street lighting in Rochester”, however everyone else says it is to hire more police…if you are going to lie to us, at least get your story straight. When I built my home 6 years ago I could see the stars at night, now it is a haze because of all lights. Maybe we all should sue RPU and the City for for light pollution. Now just wait until RPU adds a “Carbon Tax” to your bill…

  38. TJ Says:

    One more thing, as the first person who left a post said, I have done everything to reduce my energy use without living ;like I am in the 1800’s, now RPU rubs it in my face by sending me a “Guilt Report” every month comparing my energy use to my neighbors…whoever they are.

  39. Phil Oliveto Says:

    Another example of city government and administration operating freely without any control. A responsible city would review operating expenses and revenue to determine how to match them before arbitrarily imposing another tax on its’ residents under the guise of a utility fee. This city and administration have been irresponsible, spending out of control and not managing responsibly for a long time. This is just another example of that. I am appalled at this and will reflect it in my voting this November. Responsible city management is long overdue!!

  40. TIM Says:

    WHEN I FIND 7 STREET LIGHTS NOT WORKING IN MY AREA THAT HAVE BEEN REPORTED NOT WORKING NOT BEING FIXED, I FEEL THE STREET LIGHT FEE IS JUST ANOTHER FEE ON THE BILL WE GET EACH MONTH. THE CITY OF ROCHESTER SHOULD SPEND SOME TIME LOOKING FOR WAYS FOR THEM TO CONSERVE ENERGY, SINCE THEY SEEM TO BE ABLE TO TELL THE RESIDENTS OF ROCHESTER THAT THEY SHOULD CUT BACK AND CONSERVE.

  41. Mary Smith Says:

    RPU bill is high enough and full of enough fees. I think it’s unfair to tack on additional fees for those of us unfortunate enough to have a street light charge on our bill. Live within your budget as the rest of us have to do. We can’t afford even the basic necessities anymore so stop with the fees and bogus taxes!

  42. Lonnie Mexico Says:

    I don’t have a streetlight on my block either. Like one of the above posters, I can count at least 11 streetlights in my surrounding neighborhood that has light shining on an empty lot. This is such a waste and I don’t think we should have to pay for this stuff. This city wastes so much energy and resources it should be a crime. Mother nature is not happy with RPU, neither are we.

  43. Lonnie Mexico Says:

    I don’t have a streetlight on my block either. Like one of the above posters, I can count at least 11 streetlights in my surrounding neighborhood that has light shining on an empty lot. This is such a waste and I don’t think we should have to pay for this stuff. This city wastes so much energy and resources it should be a crime. Mother nature is not happy with RPU, neither are we.

  44. Richard Kiscaden Says:

    I am greatly disturbed to read that the Rochester city council wants to move the street light funding from property taxes to a utility fee. I don’t mind paying for street lights, they are necessary, but this fee idea that has become such a popular “no new taxes” avoidance scheme is wrong. When a dollar earned is used for a property tax it won’t be taxed again by the Minnesota and Federal income taxes. When a dollar earned must be spent as a city fee, Minnesota and the IRS will tax that dollar again – a dollar which I never had the option to spend as needed or desired. Say what you will about taxes, at least the state and federal folks don’t have you paying twice for the same dollar of income. They allow income deductions for property taxes paid. If the street lights are funded with a fee, that earned dollar will be getting taxed twice, once by the city of Rochester, and then through an income tax.

  45. Ken Brown Says:

    Please pass on to the Rochester City Council that Non-Profits are already paying a very high and disproportionate rate for the City Storm Water Utility Fee. Adding an additional City Fee thru the RPU bill appears to be just another attempt by the Rochester City Council to TAX Non-Profit organizations. Non-Profits can not pass this tax along to our consumers as other businesses will.

    The Streetlight Fee should remain under City Taxes where it belongs.

  46. Mike Koranda Says:

    I agree with many of the sentiments already expressed by others… Specifically I don’t agree with nor understand why the cost for street lighting should be explicitly added as a fee, as opposed to continue to be paid from the general tax revenues. It seems pretty arbitrary to me to select one item in the budget to switch to a fee, and it seems wrong to then not reduce my property taxes an equivalent amount.

  47. Larry Says:

    We pay enough already. Yet another charge for what we are paying for already. I have a better idea. Balance your budget like the rest of us do.

  48. Eric Says:

    I’m fine with paying for extra police officers but it doesn’t belong on my electricity bill. It’s ridiculous paying almost half of my bill for surcharges and “user fees” what do these actually cover? With the recent storms are we going to see our “user fees” go up even more because RPU had to fix the lines?

    Stand up and fight Nov 2nd!

  49. Denver DuMond Says:

    If the down town businesses want to bighten up their area, let them, at their own espense. I do not want to pay.

  50. Joan Cross Says:

    My last RPU bill has the following customer charges (all of which are regressive taxes, by the way): Residential Electric $14.50; Residental Water 5.26; Residential Waste Water $9.38; and Residential Storm Water $5.59. Now you are about to add $1.82 for more policemen. Shouldn’t police salaries come from tax money? That would be more fair to all residents. Apartment dwellers, condominium owners, townhome owners, and inexpensive housing owners all get charged the same as someone owning a million-dollar home. Is that fair? A small increase in property taxes to cover additional police officers would be a small inconvenience to the million-dollar home owner, and it would bring in a lot more money.

  51. Kevin Farley Says:

    This “lighting fee” is just another TAX-give it a name and throw yet another fee on the overburdened taxpayer. With Obama trying to ram Cap & Trade that in his own words “would make energy rates skyrocket” (up to quadruple by many estimates-EVERYTHING WE BUY, GAS, FOOD, GOODS of any type will skyrocket in cost because the energy to create and transport them will be artificially taxed. STOP THE INSANITY!!!!! We don’t need any more fees. Rochester already has one of the highest per-capita welfare communities and Minnesota is one of the highest taxed states in the U.S. The reason why this survey is being taken in the first place is that it is yet another “trial balloon” to see how much more the idiots are willing to pay for yet another pointless surcharge. We have to pay for the rain falling in our storm sewers on our utility bills now!!!-Charges tacked on throughout the years-little by little-charge after charge tacked on. The old frog in the pan of milk-just turn up the temperature slowly and he won’t realize that he’s being boiled alive! Stop this new tax DEAD IN ITS TRACKS!

  52. Bill Larson Says:

    It is irresponsible for the city council to pass on this tax increase to RPU. The street light user fee (now called Community Lighting Fee)is not a user fee, as the end user (RPU customer) does not have a choice in paying the fee. Therefore, it is a tax increase, and thus, does NOT belong on my RPU bill.

    I very strongly urge the RPU Utility Board to stand up and fight for their customers by sending this proposal back to the city council where it belongs.

  53. Jeff Says:

    I am saddened to see this evidence of politics in our city council. The proposal clearly makes no sense, as others have explained in detail. Yet, our city council seems to make decisions that are not based on common sense. I conclude this must be payback time for votes, or other politically motivated nonsense. Come on guys, get a grip and start doing the right thing!

  54. Rick Says:

    “Taxation” without representation… Have we ever heard of this phrase?
    How is this possible? Everyone involved with this fee / tax implementation will be held accountable by the tax payers..

    The City Council has no right to charge our RPU bill.

    FYI.. The Tea Party is now involved…

  55. Dennis Says:

    If the street lighting charge is approved, will that mean street lights will be installed on the streets that have no lights at all.

  56. Darin Says:

    This is the message I sent to my city council member Sandra Means of the 6th Ward: “Please vote no on the proposed Street Light Surcharge. This is a new stealth-style tax. Instead of imposing another fee on my monthly bill; this service should continue to be paid for out of the property taxes collected. The issue is too much government spending at all levels; not a lack of income. Stop the spending; make cuts if necessary. The public sector needs to be just as lean as the private sector and needs to be limited. It is unsustainable for government to continually increase in scope and size. Please vote no and oppose the Street Light Surcharge.”

  57. ray schmitz Says:

    Please note my previous comments in the PB and to the council, but to summarize, one major issue is the lack of consideration of the ability of the low income and seniors to absorb this fee. If the money remained in the property tax it would be offset by circuit breaker and other hold harmless benefits that the state has made available, as well as the deductibility of the property tax.
    Also, those of us who are concerned about the use of energy feel that it is important that consumers have the knowledge and ability to modify their behavior to reflect that concern, including unrelated fees in a utility bill, which studies have show to be not read in detail by most consumers, does nothing to advance the goal of energy conservation.
    Additionally, and this is a public policy issue, the fee seeks to avoid legislatively mandated property tax caps, while this may be a good game for the city to play in response to the state, it just should not be happening. Let the cost of government issues be debated not moved to hidden taxes.

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