ONTARIO — “The City is making a lot of money from the franchise,” stated Ontario City Attorney Larry Sullivan while on a conference call with the Ontario City Council at the June 16 meeting.
He went on to say how he has not heard back from Idaho Power regarding the current draft of the agreement as of the meeting date.
“We’re putting a hidden tax on the user,” stated Ontario Mayor Riley Hill, in relation to the franchise fees.
According to Ontario City Manager Adam Brown in an email received on Tuesday afternoon, a 1% reduction in the franchise fees collected from Idaho Power customers locally would translate into approximately $185,000 that would not be received by the city. This means, according to Brown, that this would mean a reduction in city services.
“We would have to discuss with the council what services to cut,” stated Brown in the message.
At the June 24 meeting of the Ontario City Council, Brown told everyone that the current franchise agreement the city has with Idaho Power will expire at the end of June and that a new agreement is necessary. Sullivan, who was attending the meeting telephonically, said that this is a 10-year franchise agreement.
Councilor Norm Crume moved to approve Ordinance 2776-2020, seconded by Council President Dan Capron, granting a non-exclusive electric utility franchise agreement between the City of Ontario and Idaho Power. This was the second reading of the ordinance in question. The Ordinance was adopted unanimously.
What does this mean for the city?
In an email from Brown received on Thursday morning, he gave more detail on what the agreement entails.
“It means that there will be no change in the franchise fee paid on electric bills. We have exchanged emails with Idaho Power. They are awaiting the signed copy of the agreement. They have not made any objections. The rate is consistent with all of our other franchise agreements and consistent with other communities in Oregon,” Brown explained.