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Landlord: ‘I tried to keep the place open’

Parkside Inn Motel landlord says he had $11,000 electric bill

ROCK FALLS – The landlord of an apartment complex that suddenly shut down more than a week ago says he did everything he could to keep that from happening.

“I think I was a very good landlord until this happened,” Davis Baker of the Parkside Inn Motel said in an interview last week.

On June 14, the Rock Falls electric utility turned off the power. That also meant no water, because the well is electric.

A day later, Baker told tenants the apartment complex was shutting down. He handed out money to tenants, but not enough to compensate them for the money they paid to stay the entire month.

“I felt horrible about it. I gave them what money I had. When I left, I had $20 left in my pocket,” said Baker, who said he was laid off from his plumbing job.

An estimated 40 people lived in the 18 efficiency apartments. One tenant reported his rent was $450 a month, but he got only $120 in compensation, well short of the $225 for the half of the month he lost.

Baker, who said he owed $11,000 in electric bills, said that on June 12, the city gave him 24 hours to pay the entire amount. He rounded up $8,000, but he said the city told him it needed $11,000 if he wanted to keep his service. He told the city some people suffered medical problems, but that made no difference, he said.

Electric bills at the complex, Baker said, can run as high as $3,500 during the winter months.

“I’d fall a little further behind every month,” he said. “I tried to keep the place open. I called everyone I knew. I was able to raise $8,000, and asked the city to give me another week, but they wouldn’t.”

The city waited 2 days before turning off the power at noon June 14.

Baker said he has a drinking problem and planned to go to rehabilitation Monday. As of Monday, he said, he had been 9 days sober, he said.

The Parkside property, an old motel, is owned by Ismet Akiti. Baker had been leasing Parkside from Akiti.

Rock Falls City Administrator Robbin Blackert wouldn’t respond to Baker’s statements Monday. Last week, she said the city had spoken with Baker and he told officials that he would notify tenants about the situation.

John Allen, one of the tenants, said Baker tried his best.

“Everyone who lived there was on Social Security,” he said. “I told him if he wanted to keep his head above water, he should raise rent. But he figured the people wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

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