Tri States Public Radio Staff
Burlington Petitioned for Public Vote
Mon April 22, 2013
Keokuk Wants to Move on Franchise Fees
Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion says he is ready to move ahead with one of his priorities.
He used this year’s State of the City address to call for the creation of new franchise fees for gas and electric services.
Marion says the new franchise fees would replace 1% local option sales taxes that are already on utility bills.
The difference is revenue from a local option sales tax is collected and dispersed between all other governments with the same tax while the franchise fee revenue goes directly to the city.
Marion says the process required to adopt a franchise fee can be lengthy, so he wants it to begin as soon as possible.
Finance Committee Chairman Roger Bryant echoed those thoughts during a recent meeting.
Marion says he and city staff will meeting with local utilities over the next few months to work on adding the proposed franchise fees to the existing agreements.
At this point, he says he is leaning towards 1% fees on each bill, though that number could increase.
There is the possibility that if the city council adopts the new agreements, residents could petition the city to hold a special election on the issue.
Marion says if a special election is needed, he would like to wait for November to save money on election expenses.
Meanwhile, in Burlington, residents want to vote on the city’s proposed franchise fees.
The city council has finalized new franchise agreements for gas and electric services with Interstate Light and Power, which is owned by Alliant Energy.
Each agreement includes a 3% franchise fee.
Former Mayor John Sandell presented the city with a pair of 33-page petitions, one covering each agreement, in response.
The petitions call for a public vote on the agreements.
City Manager Jim Ferneau says if each petitions reaches the roughly 300-signature threshold, a special election could be held on Tuesday, August 6.
He says the city council adopted the franchise fees to prevent a nearly $1 increase in Burlington’s property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.
So if the franchise fees are voted down, the city council would have to cut roughly $600,000 from the budget that takes effect July 1.
Replacement for Local Option Sales Tax
Keokuk, Burlington Also Considering