At the February London City Council meeting, a letter from Jackson Energy to customers of the electric company stated the council was considering approving a 5% franchise tax. Many citizens have reached out to city council members and social media to understand the tax better or oppose it.
Councilman Kip Jervis explained in detail his understanding of the franchise tax. "It is my understanding that a franchise fee recoups the cost of the utility companies' use of public space––also called public “right-of-way” ––for energy infrastructures such as power lines or gas pipelines.
“Kentucky allows cities to manage their own franchise agreements and set franchise fees.
“The proposal would raise all utility franchise fees to 5%. Jackson’s rates are already way more than other energy firms. I am personally for getting answers from them as to why this is, and sitting down with them as to what can be done about it. Before I vote for anyone’s energy bill to increase, I would be in favor of abolishing all the energy franchise fees across the board.”
Local Attorney Jonathan Jones expressed his concerns, “I don't live in the city of London, and I have no say in who is elected to the city council. To have a city council impose a fee that will get passed on all of Jackson Energy's customers, most of whom do not live within the city limits of London, is taxation without representation.”
The City Council called a special council meeting today, February 14th, at 12:00 pm to further discuss this fee. Franchise tax was the only item on the agenda. It was explained that the state requires all municipalities to collect a franchise fee. The tax collected then goes into the city general fund. The general fund is the source for discretionary spending and funds many of the basic municipal services such as public safety, health, human services, and public works.
Clint Johnson attended the special meeting today, and these are his thoughts. "I went to the London City Council meeting today, and I wasn't impressed. Finding out that not only would Jackson Electric have had a 2% increase. KU and Delta Gas would have also had this same 2% increase. But was the impression posted that this was a Franchise Ordinance Tax for Jackson Electric only. Yes, the First City Council Meeting was approved for this 2% increase Tax. Jackson Electric brought this to the public attention, also hearing from the City Council Members some still supported this Franchise Tax increase. City Council also admitted that they need better ways to bring information to the Public for these types of Meetings. I believe wholeheartedly without this information, the Franchise Tax would have been passed without the People's Knowledge.”
In a call for transparency Randall Weddle, Candidate for Mayor for the city of London released a video shortly after the meeting. https://www.facebook.com/Randall606/videos/487056269689542
The council called for a vote on the tax increase, and it was not passed, keeping the franchise fee at 3% for all energy companies.
Billy Mosley, The Kentucky Daily Lead Reporter