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Franchise Fees Voted Down in FM

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Tri States Public Radio

The Fort Madison City Council has signed off on the city’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014, without its most controversial provision.

1st Ward Alderman Chris Greenwald got right to the point after hearing a short presentation from City Manager Byron Smith about the proposed 1% franchise fees on electric and gas services.

His amendment to remove the fees from the budget was unanimously approved.

Greenwald cited the financial impact on Lee County, which would have lost about $80,000 in revenue had the franchise fees been enacted.

He has announced his intentions to run for a seat on the Lee County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors and the Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce had each come out against the franchise fees.

The amendment left a roughly $150,000 hole in the spending plan.

The panel voted to "fill it" by transferring money between accounts and by cutting funding for multiple departments: police, fire, library, cemetery and nuisance.

These were the only changes made to the budget, which Smith says includes no changes to staffing levels and no significant cuts in service.

He told the city council the talk of utility franchise fees could resurface next year.  Greenwald says negotiations must be done, in advance, to see if that is a more feasible option at that time.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.