City Revisiting Cable Fee

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Franchise Fee Focus Of Nov. 24 Public Hearing

By Joe Foreman, Editor

The Glenwood City Council will revisit a proposal to generate revenue by raising the franchise fee charged to Mediacom, the city’s cable television provider. The matter will be discussed at a public hearing next Tuesday evening, Nov. 24, at City Hall.

Last month, the council voted 3-2 against raising the fee from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Prior to the vote, Glenwood City Administrator / Finance Director Mary Smith told council members that based on figures from the 2008 calendar year, over $12,000 could be generated annually for the general fund if the city were to raise the franchise fee it collects from Mediacom from the current rate of 3 percent to 5 percent.

The franchise fee is assessed to Mediacom and then passed down by the cable television provider to individual subscribers in Glenwood, Mayor Dyle Downing said.

Prior to last month’s vote against the fee hike, council member Craig Florian voiced opposition to the plan, stating that he’s received numerous complaints about rising cable television rates in recent months. At last week’s meeting, Florian said he isn’t opposed to having a public hearing on the matter, but said it’s doubtful that he’ll reconsider his opposition to the plan. Florian also stated that the public hearing should have taken place before last month’s vote.

Glenwood City Attorney Matt Woods said a public hearing would not be required if the city intends to keep the franchise fee at 3 percent - the current contract with Mediacom would simply be extended. However, Woods noted that Mediacom is currently agreeable to raising the fee to 5 percent but may not be interested in renegotiating in the future should the city decide to stay with a 3-percent fee at this time.

Council members Susan Hirschman and Kay LeFever also voted against the plan last month. Hirschman asked last week if the money generated by the additional fees could be put aside for a swimming pool fund. Smith said a portion of the franchise fees are already earmarked for the library, but some dollars could be set aside for the pool fund or other projects if the city council desires. LeFever was absent from last week’s meeting.

Tuesday’s public hearing will take place during the council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m.