By Mike Kruzman /

A local hotel operator has been granted a request for a lower flat rate water bill, in what could be described as a business-friendly move by Marion Township.

Nick Patel is the owner and operator of Howell Hotel in Marion Township. He recently contacted Township Supervisor Bob Hanvey over current hardships, largely due to COVID-19. Patel shared in a letter that he has experienced a substantial reduction in occupancy rates on top of the hotel’s restaurant not operating. Recent bookings have decreased monthly from 154 in October of 2021, to 58 in January.

The hotel is not on a water meter, but instead is charged a $1,200 quarterly flat rate. To help survive, Patel has asked for a reduction in that fee. Hanvey made a recommendation to the township board that based on Patel’s bookings, a $300 quarterly rate seems more reasonable.

Trustee Dan Lowe, at the Board’s meeting Thursday, noted the rough time Patel has had and said he was agreeable to the change. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new, lower rate.

Hanvey suggested at the meeting that they will monitor the situation quarterly and consider new rates as the business rebounds, the restaurant re-opens, or if Patel hooks up to a meter with MHOG.