Roseville eyes police call fee for problem motels


The volume of police calls coming from Roseville’s Motel 6 is one of the reasons the city is looking into charging a fee to places of lodging for excessive calls for service that tied up police resources. (Mike Munzenrider)

Roseville is looking to make monetary pressure a tool in getting the city’s motels to work with officials to get a handle on the number of police calls originating from the places of lodging.

City Manager Pat Trudgeon told city council members during their Aug. 26 workshop meeting about plans to charge hotel and motel owners a steep fee should the number of calls for service at their businesses exceed a set number per month.

The owners could exempt themselves from the fees if they opt to work with city officials to put in place measures to mitigate issues at their hotels, such as installing extra lighting and other security measures.

Trudgeon floated charging hotels and motels $2,500 for every call that goes over a limit of 10 per month, a fee that would help cover the cost of diverting city police resources to situations that can oftentimes be complicated and time-consuming.

Showing data from the Roseville Police Department, Trudgeon noted that only three of the city’s 11 overnight lodging businesses have averaged more than 10 calls per month this year, with a fourth nearly topping the 10-call mark.

The Motel 6 on Cleveland Avenue and the Norwood Inn & Suites on Prior Avenue are the outliers of the group, averaging 46 and 27 calls respectively per month for 2019. The third motel above 10 calls for service each month is the Key Inn, a few block north of Motel 6, averaging a dozen calls.

Trudgeon said the number of calls for service over the past couple of years has been steadily rising at the motels in question. He said the 10-call limit would exempt calls involving domestic abuse and medical emergencies.

Some owners have worked better with the city than others to address issues at their businesses, and Trudgeon said the large fee is a means for the city to apply some pressure.

“If the management is not going to be engaging with us we need to have proper regulations in place to make sure that their excessive calls, that we are able to charge back for that,” he said.

Council members wanted to make sure the fee wouldn’t discourage hotel/motel employees from calling the police when necessary, and Trudgeon said it was a factor that city staffers kept in mind when developing the policy. Police Chief Rick Mathwig noted at the meeting that the majority of calls come from people staying at the businesses.

“In reality, we need someone to call,” Trudgeon said. “It behooves them to call and [for management to] work with us.”

The fee is a means for the city to exert some control over lodging establishments, which based on state law are licensed by the county in which they’re located. Trudgeon said Roseville officials have met with Ramsey County officials to discuss coordinating visits to motels and better information sharing.

Roseville legislators Sen. John Marty and Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn introduced bills that would allow for local licensing of motels, though neither received a hearing this past legislative session. Each are still able to be heard and passed in the 2020 legislative session.

Trudgeon said city staffers would continue working out details for the hotel/motel fees, aiming to have them included in the city’s 2020 fee schedule that the council will approve later this year.

 

—Mike Munzenrider

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