Conversation among renters in the mobile home court Saturday at Marion County Park and Lake didn’t focus on the Mothers of Preschoolers half-marathon and 5-kilometer run that passed through their neighborhood.
Nor did it focus on that evening’s free concert by the Fort Riley Army Band at the swimming beach. The main topic of conversation was a proposal by Marion County Commissioner Dan Holub to increase the rent for the lots, possibly by as much as $1,500 a year.
“It’s been a big subject today, a very big subject,” Ed Riffel of Newton said.
Holub proposed increasing rent on the lots from $1,050 per year to $2,500 during a commission meeting Aug. 8. He said he arrived at that figure by charging $13 per day — the same amount charged to recreational vehicle campers — for the number of days per year the trailers can be occupied, plus $1 per day the rest of the year for storage.
Many of the renters didn’t hear about the proposal until Saturday, and some were still thinking over the proposal.
“I’m not sure how I feel about it,” Cindy Sinasky of Illinois said. “We only come out here once a month, and it’s not feasible if they have to raise the rent. We may have to sell.
“It’s a shame, because we just love it here,” Sinasky said.
She said the general perception among renters was that the increase was way too high to come all at once.
“I don’t think we need to go from $1,050 to $2,500,” Riffel agreed.
Riffel questioned what the extra revenue would be spent on. He asked whether the county would really reinvest all of that in the lake. With 59 renters, the proposed increase would generate an additional $85,550 of revenue per year.
“Every dime made at the lake stays at the lake,” Holub said later.
In recent years, the county has built a handicap-accessible fishing pier, built a stage for events like Saturday’s concert, and planted new trees, and none of the funds for those projects came from property taxes, Holub said.
Bill Waring of Wichita said he thought that if Holub didn’t have the foresight in the past to prepare for rising utility costs for the trailers, he isn’t fit to hold office.
“He needs to be voted out of office,” Waring said. “He’s screwing Marion County.”
Waring questioned whether Holub’s proposal was retaliation for renters’ opposition to a proposal by Holub’s children to build rental cabins between the mobile home park and the lake.
Holub said the two were completely unrelated, but that he knew such accusations were likely. The opposition to the cabin project was mostly from property owners around the lake, not from renters.
He said the $2,500 figure was intended as a starting point for discussion. Two years ago when the county increased rent to $1,050, Holub proposed increasing it to $2,000. At that time, the commission agreed to revisit the rent for mobile home lots every two years, and now is the time to do that, Holub said.