Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Thank you for the comments

As noted in the media and the newspaper notification, the feedback from customers is very important to us. I will be gathering the comments and documenting phone calls that are received and will have this information available for the Utility Board to look over during their meeting in July.

Please also remember that if you would like to speak and/or attend a Utility Board meeting, they are open to the public. As this is a proposed fee, the final approval will have to go before the City Council if the Utility Board approves it.

Thank you for your time,

Tony Benson
Communications Coordinator

24 Responses to “Thank you for the comments”

  1. Chris Anderson Says:

    If the city wants to raise more cash to spend, make them raise our property/sales tax. Don’t let them raise our “fees”. This is an attempt at making government less transparent. If the government wants more cash, then make them obtain it in the light of day by raising our taxes. Don’t act as a smokescreen for gutless city politicians.

  2. Debbie Says:

    This so-called “Fee” is not acceptable. First, lets call this what it truly is, a tax! Where I live, there is one street light that lights an intersection, nothing on our main street. To charge nonprofit organizations is totally out of line. These organizations are already struggling due to the economy, they should be completely left out of this equation. This should just be included in our property taxes..stop the politics so you can say, “We did not raise taxes!” I don’t think anyone has a problem with helping to cover more police officers for our city.

  3. Dennis Erickson Says:

    As a fee, sales tax would be added too, for the whole state’s benefit. We live in a housing coop, Fairway Ridge. We have no city lights here, the street lights on the square in front of us belong to us and we are already paying plenty for our light. You would be collecting around $100 from our building. I don’t know if you would also be billing our housing coop based on electric usage for which we also pay through our monthly payments. If so we would be paying double though we have no public street lights. This tacking on “fees” to our bills has got to stop. If council members don’t have the courage to raise funds properly and fairly, they should not run for office.

  4. Carol Says:

    I don’t ride a bike on all the new lite bike paths and would be afraid to walk them at night. So why should I have to pay for something I don’t use, let all the city council pay for it themselves. Also my street only has one street light at the intersections, none in front of my house. The bike paths have better lighting then our street.

  5. Gail Says:

    What about those of us living in Rochester township and paying for our RPU lights each month. We pay a rental fee for the light near our home. Are we expected to pay this as well? What it comes down to is fees, taxes, surcharges–all starting out as small amounts that keep growing. We are taxed and surcharged enough. We have to deal with the same nonsense with Minn. Energy. Only the voters can truly make a difference. Don’t blindly vote for the incumbent. If the person is one of those tax and spend officials, vote him/her out of office. Send a clear message that we are tired of working and having our money taken from us. Maybe RPU could reduce the number of lights installed and find an energy efficient way of providing light. The easy way out is always to make someone else pay for it.

  6. Tom Most Says:

    Last week I was setting around a camp fire listening to a former City Counsel member. He said that the City Government Employees are over paid. He said they retire at 55 and move to their cabin up north. Anne Kirkpatrick a Democrat from Arizona is proposing that members of Congress take a pay cut in order to help balance the National Budget. A recent article in the Post Bulletin described the many add ons to the RPU utility bill. This Street Light charge is just another Government Tax. It is just one little increase here and there and it keeps adding up. Rochester residence are not getting pay increases to help pay for all these increases. Government sets their budget and when they run short they just raise something to balance it. I hate to see what will be the next thing you want us to pay for.

  7. Charles Brumbach Says:

    Enough is Enough. Every entity wants “just a few cents more each month”. When it is all added up it becomes rather significant. Not everyone is a Mayo Surgeon. Back off and get your hands out of my pocket. I’ve had it!!!

  8. Carol Gavin Says:

    I am not for RPU adding a fee for street lights and their repair/maintenance. I don’t understand what all those customer charges are for, i.e. water %5.25; Waste water customer charge $9.38; storm water customer charge $2.50. We also pay for fire hydrant charge. I can’t afford any more CHARGES in addition to my usage charges for energy, water and residential waste water. Enough is enough in these hard times. Thanks for listening.

  9. Ken Says:

    I would not mind if RPU collects for Street -lighting for the city Or police Dept. my problem is the so called customer charges that are collected for each item. On a $90.00 bill the customer charge is $32.00 I need a job collecting fees like that What kind of charge will they charge for street -lights. What is wrong with city collecting there own fees?
    maybe RPU could start collecting for parking meters also.

  10. Al W. Says:

    It was nice to see Fran Bradley talk about the ‘stealth taxes’ we all must pay in his Post Bulletin column. This latest one, ‘streetlight fee’, is something the council needs to be told is wrong. It is nothing more than a property tax, and should be listed as such on our property tax bill. If it is more efficient for RPU to collect it, fine. A true fee is for something I, personally, do or use, such as licence a car, pay for parking in the ramp, having the water/sewer/electric just be connected to my home (amount I use being listed separately is fine.) And while we are at it, the storm water and fire hydrant charges should move too, they are nothing more than part property tax.

  11. Rich Says:

    I like alot of people am sick of all your surcharges storm water run off which is a good one because I live in a flood plain so actually I take on the water in my front yard I should charge the city instead. The lady downtown told me that it was for driving on the clean streets in Rochester maybe there should be toll booths for everyone to pay to enter Rochester. By the way still waiting on Dennis Hanson to get back to me on this one Ardelle Brede also he doesnt seem to get his phone messages to call me back like to know when curb and gutter is coming through our area part of the fee I am getting charged for. As far as your street light charge no good for me dont have street lights at all in my neighborhood. I believe the property taxes people get charged is more than enough to pay for everything if its not think about cut backs everybody else has to. I have made alot of cutbacks do to the economy I think the city and everyone else can do the same. While we are on the subject I also get charged on my electric bill a franchise fee from the city to do nothing(I pay energy charge, facility fee, sales tax, rochester tax, then on top a franschise fee for the city) yes I am part of some people who got annexed in to the city still supplied by Peoples Coop Power go figure city has their nose in everything. Then we got a charge on fire hydrants another thanks to our great city leaders. Instead of always hiring a firm to come in and evaluate Rochester with all our tax dollars maybe the tax payers could solve some of the problems for free but of course people don’t want to listen to the common hard working people. Make cutbacks in house first. Alot of hard working people out of work right now maybe we should worry about that right now. No to all new charges or higher charges of any sort. Shut the bike trail and street lights off. Thanks anyways.

  12. bob pomerenke Says:

    this new fee is to be used to hire four new police officiers as i understand it.what is the next fee going to come from when the fire department wants an
    equal amount of employees for their department?if you believe this will not happen,then you had better wake i have retired from the city after 38 years of employment i dont have a cabin up north nor in arizona as many of my ibm and clinic friends have.being a public employee does not give you a lavis retirement.

  13. David Greden Says:

    The answer is NO, NO, NO. Enough is enough is enough. Please run RPU like a business and charge us what it costs you, not this hokey-pokey fee garbage. Hard to figure you folks. Is this fee a vehicle to get some money out of the local non-profits or a political ploy to fund the police for a battle in southeast Rochester that they are steadily losing?

  14. John Pitcher Says:

    One of the city’s responsibilities is to provide for the safety and well-being of it’s citizens and their property. That comes before any recreational, promotional, or social program aim the city council may have. Please don’t enable further irresponsibility and lack of leadership by the council in discharging their duty by giving them cover with this tax disguised as a fee.

  15. Terry Severson Says:

    A surcharge for stret lights is simply another tax. Street lights are needed for the convenience and protection of the general public – they are not needed solely for the convenience and security of the individual homeowner. You can add my name to the list of folks opposed to this new tax.

  16. Frank Mowatt Says:

    The new Rochester Street Light Fee is plain and simple a NEW TAX. As the Post Bulletin opinions section labeled it, a “Stealth Tax”. You can refuse to pay fees by not using the service, but we are being forced to pay this in our RPU bill. I live in a town house association and we pay all the electricity and repair cost for our street lights, so now we are paying extra. This is not fair and has to stop. Vote NO for this new tax.

    The Rochester City Council is playing games trying to hide new taxes. Which shell is the next tax going to be under? Why remove street light costs from the general tax fund to hire more police officers. Increase the police budget the proper way without tricks.

  17. Dick Hawkins Says:

    As I glance over my utility bill for last month, I see $563.33 in extra charges and fees that have nothing to do with the power and water that we use in our building. What makes you special? If I go out to eat at a restaurant, are they going to charge me for dessert if I don’t have one?NO! I have no problem paying my way, if I use it, I’ll pay for it but don’t expect me pay for government mis-spending. We all have a budget that we have to work with-in if we want to stay in business – again, what makes you so special? We all want our community to grow. A business man or a home-owner can do the math and find that it is cheaper to go else where.

  18. Andy Hanson Says:

    It is unacceptable that RPU be complicit with the City Council in this matter of adding additional street light fees. It is the cities responsibility to pay their bills, including the bill to power and maintain street lights. Is the next fee to cover the power and water bill for the Government Center, Fire Houses, and Maintenance shops. Will street sweeper and pot hole repair fees be showing up on my Electric Bill soon? I (the consumer) am trapped in this case as I have no other option for an electric/water/sewer provider for my home to escape these fees. These fees also represent a double tax. I cannot deduct these fees from my state and federal income tax, however if the city were to properly fund this service through property taxes, I would be allowed the deduction. Please stand up for consumers rights and make the city fairly pay their utility bills as I pay mine.

  19. Earl Langton Says:

    Government doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. All these little fees add up. So the government can’t afford their programs and operating expenses without raising fees (read taxes). When was the last time someone asked the taxpayer if he or she could afford paying more taxes?

  20. Eric Says:

    I agree that we should simply address this “fee” with what it is…a tax. So, compensate by raising property taxes $1.

    With this said, the city should lead by example in reducing expenses just as John Q Public has to. I’ve suggested to my councilman that the city simply shut off some lights to conserve power. This is not a safety issue or you would be adding lights to under served areas. Simply cut usage to demonstrate by example how the public should be helping.

    Frankly I’m tired of all these extra fees. Property taxes at least are a known commodity even if people don’t care for them.

  21. Ted Says:

    RPU – Rochester Public Utility. Your job is to provide utility services to the city of Rochester not to be a sock puppet for the city government to collect additional taxes because they have not done their job of maintaining a budget. Say no to additional taxes disquised as fees.

  22. Ronald Says:

    I strongly oppose this stealth tax, imposed in the form of an additional utility fee. Streetlights, like other government services, should be funded through the existing property taxes.

  23. Mike McDonough Says:

    I think in a country that prides it self in scientific knowledge should consider facts about the Community Lighting Fee.

    I hope the table stays in place. It looks like the small business gets a big hit. If they happen to have more than one meter at there business they pay double for lighting. This does not seem very logical to me. I think a cost per kilowatt hour used might be more sensible for all people as it would BE a little progressive instead of regressive. A person in a studio apartment pays the same as someone in a $800,000 house that may have more land to light and more people may live there.

    Fee/Meter/MO # Meters Fee Collections/YR % Fees
    $1.82 43,255 $ 944,689.20 68%
    General Service
    $7.09 4,158 $ 353,762.64 26%
    Medium General
    $13.64 388 $ 63,507.84 5%
    Large General
    $92.40 15 $ 16,632.00 1%
    Large Industrial
    (MAYO/IBM ???)
    $190.23 2 $ 4,565.52 .3%
    Totals $ 1,383,157.20 100.3%

    I performed some analysis of sever houses of different Tax valuations. I was told by the city that this would amount to 3% raise in city taxes. I compared the 3% of each of these house’s city taxes to the fee they would pay. I would have liked to put this in a table and a chart but this form does not provide for this.

    House number 1 was valued at $841,200 and 3% of the city tax was $119.01 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was -445%

    House number 2 was valued at $606,900 and 3% of the city tax was $81.39 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was -273%.

    House number 3 was valued at $398,100 and 3% of the city tax was $47.98 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was -120

    House number 4 was valued at $262,200 and 3% of the city tax was $30.22 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was -38%.

    House number 5 was valued at $144,400 and 3% of the city tax was $15.87 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was +38%.

    House number 6 was valued at $117,000 and 3% of the city tax was $12.07 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was +81%.

    House number 7 was valued at $64,500 and 3% of the city tax was $5.43 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was +302%.

    House number 8 was valued at $40,000 and 3% of the city tax was $3.39 vs $21.84 for Community Lighting fee which means this houses tax load was +544%.

    I think it is obvious that this tax is regressive and unfair. to home owners. I also looked at two rental properties. I hope to look at more rental property and will supply that information latter.

    The Duplex was valued at $125,300.00 and 3% of the city tax was $20.10 vs $43.68 for Community Lighting fee which means this duplex’s tax load was +117%.

    The Six Plex was valued at $188,400.00 and 3% of the city tax was $30.25 vs $131.04 for Community Lighting fee which means this Six Plex tax load was +333%.

    The owners of the rental property did not get a raise in taxes but may get some sort of Community Lighting fee for the commercial building if they have a meter. The tenants in actuality will get a raise in rent with no way to take advantage of state rent rebate, etc. This illustrates that this is a very poor way to collect money for the Lighting of Rochester street lights.

    I asked the identity of the large Industrial Meter owners. I was told that all customer information is confidential. This makes it almost impossible to look at the Commercial side of the fee. It seems this is the reverse of the openness this community should have. This is about more than the cost of the fee, it is about fairness and this is the third one of these fees where does it stop. I think the truth needs to come out and not be a secret fee. The minimum change would be to make it based on electricity used and the public would have to know who is paying how much like taxes. Home owners who itemize deductions will loose the deduction for this amount. Lets be a caring community that believes in SOCIAL JUSTICE. Lets just raise THE PROPERTY TAXES.

  24. Richard Otto Says:

    Earlier this month our local media clearly stated that RPU will be taking input on the street light fee until the end of this month (July). I am hoping citizens continue to supply the input through July 31.

    Citizens of Rochester are making it clear to RPU and the city council that “stealth taxes” are out of control and that RPU and the city council must reverse the trend now. The point isn’t the fee or the amount, the point is that this is another “stealth tax” (reference other posts here-in). Taxes should NOT be handled as fees. Fran Bradley clarifies why taxes should not be handled as fees quite succinctly and expertly in his letter to the Post Bulletin regarding stealth taxes. Fran’s article is still in the Post Bulletin archives but it isn’t easily intuitive on how to find it the PB archives so I post it here again for your convenience (Fran is right on the mark):

    ‘Stealth taxes’ are getting out of control (by FRAN BRADLEY)

    Have you looked carefully at your utility and garbage bills lately? Expect to be surprised, confused and even irritated when you do. You will find that the actual service rendered is far from representing your total bill.
    In fact, you will find numerous fees and special charges. Most of these are imposed by governmental units or are the result of government mandates. Here are some examples:
    Gas Affordability Program Charge – “surcharge to recover the costs of offering a low-income customer co-pay program designed to reduce natural gas service disconnections” (Xcel Energy).
    Resource Adjustment for Electric – “surcharge to recover the cost of mandated conservation programs designated to encourage customers to use energy efficiently” (Xcel Energy).
    Resource Adjustment for Gas – “surcharge to recover the cost of mandated conservation programs designed to encourage customers to user energy efficiently and to recover the costs associated with the Reliability Administrator / Sustainable Building Guidelines as defined by Minnesota state legislation” (Xcel Energy).
    Clean Air Rider – (Rochester Public Utilities Electric).
    Fire Hydrant Facilities Charge – (RPU Water).
    State Mandated Water Charge – (RPU Water).
    Waste Water Customer Charge – (RPU Waste Water).
    Storm Water Utility Fee – (RPU Storm Water).
    Storm Water Customer Charge – (RPU Storm Water).
    Fuel/Environmental Fees – (Garbage).
    Recycling Surcharge – (Garbage).
    Solid Waste Management Tax – (Garbage).
    Rochester plans to add a fee to pay for street lights. Minnesota added large fees to parking tickets to take the place of general fund expenditures. Our water costs are making a large jump because of state mandates.
    We are surrounded by an ever-growing list of fees, surcharges and mandates that supplant our tax system. Public officials avoid criticism about state and local taxes (income, sales and property) by instead funding the steady growth of government spending by adding these fees. Typically, these fees are not included in any analysis of local and state tax burdens. They have truly become “stealth” tax increases.
    True, user fees are generally understood and accepted. We expect to pay for the electricity, water, gas and other direct services we receive. We pay for our car and fishing license. We may complain about how much a commodity or service costs, but we can accept payment of fairly allocated costs for specific user-centered expenses. But, the new era of fees are not “user fees”. They are simply taxes of another form.
    This is not an indictment of the collectors of the fees – they are simply doing what is required of them. They might try better in some cases to make their charges more clear, but that is a separate issue. Also, these concerns are not directed at the validity of the use of these fees collected. That is another subject in itself. No, this column is a criticism of the system used to collect money used to provide services where non-user fees are used to replace regular taxes.
    Transparency is a common theme professed by politicians today. In the world of truth in advertising, there would be none of the stealth taxes (fees) described in this column. General government services would be paid for by taxes and both income and expenses would be readily available to the public.
    We would have a full accounting of the taxes and the cost of government.
    Take a few minutes to review your utility and garbage bills. Learn about the planned street light fee. Watch for other examples of non-user fees being used instead of tax increases. Let your voice be heard calling for true transparency in government. Perhaps we can stop or reverse this trend of “stealth taxes.”

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