Council approves new license and fee

A NW Natural project was completed in the city of Dallas right-of-way earlier this year. NW Natural has a franchise agreement with the city to pay for use of the right-of-way, but a new utility license and fee approved Monday assures all utilities will pay for use.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
A NW Natural project was completed in the city of Dallas right-of-way earlier this year. NW Natural has a franchise agreement with the city to pay for use of the right-of-way, but a new utility license and fee approved Monday assures all utilities will pay for use.



DALLAS — The Dallas City Council approved a new utility license and fee at Monday’s meeting.

The fee and licensing requirements would impact all utilities operating, except for those that already have a franchise agreement with the city: Pacific Power, Northwest Natural Gas, Century Link and Charter.

The new ordinance creates a license requirement and fee on internet modem services. Charter Communications told the council on Sept. 18 that it would pass on any new fees to customers.

Councilor Micky Garus said the council should keep that in mind when considering the ordinance and when it set the fee rate later this year.

“I’m concerned about what kind of fees we would be passing on to our citizens. It’s an unknown,” he said. “Looking at the bigger picture and some of the things that we are going to be asking our community to bear in the future, whether it’s streets or a public safety facility. This is one of those things we need to really look at and say, ‘Is this going to sit well with the community?’”

City Manager Ron Foggin said the ordinance asks utilities to pay for all their use of the city’s rights-of-way.

“Back when the internet was being introduced to homes, these companies successfully got internet broken away from telecom,” he said. “As they put in this infrastructure, they were able to deliver telephone and cable and internet services, and thus avoiding paying franchise fees for the internet-side of the business.”

Councilor Terry Crawford asked what the potential new revenue would be used for.

Foggin said all franchise fees go toward the city’s general fund.

The ordinance passed on a 5-3 vote with Garus, Crawford and Councilor Jennie Rummell voting no. Councilor Jackie Lawson was absent from the meeting.



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