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Edgewood Council Debates Fees

An Edgewood city councilman objected to the proposed franchise fee on all wired communication and Duke Energy bills, each of which would be set at 1.9 percent.

Jeff Schreiver, who was absent from the earlier meeting this month when the first reading of the ordinance took place, questioned the fees.

"I don't see a need for this," said Schreiver. "What are we going to do with the money? Why are we doing this?"

It was explained that on the telecommunications fee, the 1.9 percent is already being charged, but if there isn't an agreement between the city and the state, that money from the fee will go to the state. Schreiver agreed that the city should claim the money generated by their city, and voted for the wired communications fee.

But when it came to the Duke fee, he said he didn't see the need to raise the tax bills on everyone. He believes council shouldn't raise Duke's fee just because they can.

City Administrator Brian Dehner said the money should go towards the roads. Schreiver asked if the state charged a fee for Duke, but City Attorney Frank Wichmann wasn't sure. Schreiver said if the state wasn't charging them, he thought the city shouldn't charge a fee either.

Wichmann said there was a law which prevented cities from charging unequal fees, but he wasn't sure if that applied to utilities.

Councilman Tony Ward agreed with Schreiver.

But Councilman Dale Henson argued that the company creates wear and tear on the streets and therefore the fee is justified.  

"I would be okay with it if the money is used exclusively for roads," Henson said.

Schreiver countered, saying Duke wasn't paying it, though, the residents are paying the fee.

Dehner explained that if the fee were on the gas and electric bill, everybody pays the fee, including those who are exempt from paying property taxes.

When it came to the vote, Schreiver and Ward voted no, and the rest of council voted yes, passing the fee of 1.9 percent.

Dehner had said that he thought the Duke fee would generate about $150,000 to $160,000, but if it generated too much more, or council changed their minds, they could always amend the rate at a later time.

The city also received $130,000 in municipal road aid from the state, it was announced.

Mayor John Link explained that the amount in the budget for roads is $800,000, and if the state were to take away $130,000, which is dedicated to Lyndale and Beech roads, the city still has $670,000 to spend on all the other streets.

Council listened to the first reading of the budget. The second reading will be in June.

Four members of Cub Scout Pack 236 came to the meeting, along with leader Chris Ward. They were learning about bravery. One scout, Jacob Merkle, was celebrating his 9th birthday.

Mayor Link announced the Memorial Day celebration will be on Monday at 10 a.m. at Freedom Park. Boy scouts will be on hand to properly dispose of American flags.

Shred Day will be June 1 from 9 a.m, till noon. Residents are limited to five brown paper bags worth of paper.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor