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Verndale made a good deal

On Monday night, the Verndale City Council made a difficult but correct choice when it negotiated a deal with Scott Veronen, the new owner of the mobile home park in Verndale, over city water rates.

Over the years, collecting payment from some of the residents of the park has been a difficulty for the city because there's no teeth. The "teeth" the city usually has with a homeowner, an easy to turn off water meter, doesn't exist in the park, and turning off one's water there involves climbing under the trailer to turn a switch. The homeowner can just as easily climb under and turn it back on.

So the city really only had three choices: continue to send bills but not get payment, put in the plumbing infrastructure necessary to turn off water more easily (an expensive choice), or deal with Veronen, who offered to pay the whole water bill for the park (and collect from residents himself) as long as the city cut him a deal on the number of base charges he'd be billed.

From the occasionally anguished looks displayed by both Veronen and the council members he was negotiating with, the deal looked fair: instead of the 18 base charges, the number would be nine.

While some will argue it's too good of a deal for Veronen -- and some may ask for similar deals -- the park is really a unique situation and the city made a good agreement. The phrase "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" comes to mind. Not only will Veronen save the city time and headaches by paying the whole bill each month in the future, he is in the process of clearing the ledger for all overdue payments by the residents in his park, to the tune of about $3,500. Sending a bill is one thing. Having the money is another.

Veronen's willingness to play bill collector for the city will, in the long run, be a good deal for the city. And by ensuring payment on these bills, the city has a more reliable stream of payment. That's a benefit to every tax payer in Verndale.