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Mobile home park owner tells GW council he was unfairly fined $117,900 • Council to form committee to look into the issue
by Ben Tinsley
Mar 01, 2014 | 113 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ben Tinsley
The George West City Council has agreed to explore the process in which mobile home park annual permit fees are assessed after an owner announced at a meeting he had unfairly been fined $117,900.
Ben Tinsley The George West City Council has agreed to explore the process in which mobile home park annual permit fees are assessed after an owner announced at a meeting he had unfairly been fined $117,900.
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GEORGE WEST – Members of the George West City Council agreed last week to examine the process in which mobile home park annual permit fees are assessed after an owner announced at a meeting he was unfairly fined $117,900 for not paying a $1,235 yearly charge.

John Walker, owner of Tower Mobile Home Park, contends the $117,900 breaks down to a $300 penalty plus an additional hourly fine of $100 for every hour that his park is without a permit. Walker announced he also was informed by the city that failing to comply with the fine will constitute a misdemeanor crime.

The mobile home park owner decried the current annual permit fee for a mobile home park in George West, which he said is $75 park fee plus $40 for each space. RV parks are $50 park plus $20 per space, Walker added.

Walker told the council the situation is frustrating to him because many other local municipalities don’t charge annual fees at all. Walker said he pays taxes for the park property, is responsible for the road in the park and any water or sewer problems within the park, and he and his tenants all pay for city utilities.

In response, GW Special Projects Attorney Lucinda Garcia formally recommended a committee be established to explore the issue—one with citizens and owners of home parks to see what comprises a reasonable fee that accurately reflects the current market.

“This should be a collaborative effort but one to definitely establish what is most fair and reasonable,” attorney Garcia said.

Although council members at the meeting took no formal vote on the matter, those present—Mayor Sylvia Steele, Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Lopez and council member David Cantu—agreed a committee should be formed.

Council members, the mayor pro tem in particular, told Walker he must still pay the $1,235 fee, but not the alleged $117,900 fine.

However, Walker’s claim was met with some skepticism.

Attorney Garcia appeared to be taken aback by Walker’s assertion that he could be fined such a large amount. Garcia said she was unfamiliar with any George West penalty fines that could possibly amount to that much.

“That is virtually unheard of,” Garcia said. “Maybe there is some communication gap.”

City Manager Sandra Martinez said Monday she is at a loss as to why Walker thinks such a huge fine had been levied.

“That large amount he stated at the council meeting is not true,” she said. “The city was never going to impose such a large fine on him—or anyone.”

It was speculated at the meeting that the fine might have been assessed by someone accidentally reading from two or so ordinances.

Additionally, the city manager said some incorrect wording in a mail-out could have initially given Walker the false impression. But she said every effort has been made to clarify the issue with him.

“I have tried explaining to Mr. Walker that we inadvertently put the wrong information in a form letter that was sent to all the RV park owners—it was a misprint,” the city manager said. “And I later even gave him a correct version of that letter.”

Reporter Ben Tinsley can be contacted by email at theprogress@mysoutex.com or by phone at 361-786-3022.

Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/BenTinsley or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.

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