The Saratoga Sun -

By Mike Dunn 

CP&L general manager questions town's franchise fee

 


A franchise fee could lead to increased costs for the entire town, Chuck Larsen with Carbon Power and Light told Mayor John Zeiger and the Saratoga Town Council at their regular meeting on May 6.

Carbon Power and Light, a major provider of electricity in the Platte Valley, has to renew their franchise agreement with the town of Saratoga. Larsen said after discussions with Mayor Zeiger and Saratoga Town Attorney Tom Thompson, the town “has considered charging a franchise fee to Carbon Power and Light.”

“We have served the town since 1944, 70 years without a franchise fee,” Larsen said in a prepared statement to the town council. The amount to be charged as a franchise fee has not been determined, town attorney Tom Thompson said.

Larsen said in the event that the town of Saratoga would charge the non-profit, cooperative power company a franchise fee, the fees would then be passed on to the customers.

“In January of 2014, Carbon [Power and Light] received $289,530.20 based on gross receipts from the electric bill sent to the 1,290 accounts and respective member-owners received bills within the limits of the town. A 5 percent franchise fee would amount to a gross taxation on those member-owners in the amount of $14,476.51 for that month,” Larsen said, providing scenarios of how the franchise fee would impact the owners.

“A 2 percent fee would lead to a gross taxation of $5,790.50,” said Town Attorney Tom Thompson. Larsen explained the 5 percent fee would increase the average users bill by $7.01 a month, while a 2 percent fee would increase the average bill by $2.80.

Larsen also acknowledged the added fee would impact the town itself — which is one of Carbon Power and Light’s largest customers. A 5 percent franchise fee would increase the town’s bill by $250, and a 2 percent fee would increase their bill by $100 a month.

“The residents of Carbon Power and Light, as well as the town of Saratoga, are all member-owners—why would they want to impose a tax on themselves?” Larsen said.

Thompson said before the council makes a decision one way or another, they need to consider how much Carbon Power and Light brings in a year.

“I think one of the questions is what is the gross revenue for Carbon Power and Light within Saratoga, and I think Mr. Larsen indicated that it was $180,000. I think the clerk indicated that is what the town pays Carbon Power and Light alone each year,” Thompson said. “So the gross revenue for the town, I would suspect, is probably well over one-million.”

Thompson added all other utilities within the town pay franchise fees as well. The council said they would consider Larsen’s statement, and did not make a decision concerning the franchise fee.

Shooting update

Saratoga Police Chief Tom Knickerbocker provided the town an update on the officer-involved shooting on the night of April 27. Saratoga resident Ryan Scott Simmons of Saratoga allegedly threatened his family and an officer with a knife, causing a Saratoga Police Officer to fire two shots at Simmons.

“The suspect is out of the hospital and in jail. I have not gotten a list of charges on him yet, but I have a 20-page list of complaints,” Knickerbocker said. “I don’t want to comment on the charges right now, because I am not sure exactly what they are.”

Concerning the officer who fired upon Simmons, Knickerbocker said he was on paid administrative leave until this Friday and is “doing well.”

“We had a sergeant with the Cheyenne Police Department come in and do a debriefing for everybody that was involved in the critical incident,” Knickerbocker said, adding EMS crews, doctors and officers were involved in the debriefing. “We have also had some follow-up for the officer himself, some one-on-one with a doctor.”

The name of the officer who fired the shots has not been released.

Plans for Summer

Town officials discussed their plans for summer recreation. Recreation director Lisa Burton said she had hired staff members for the Saratoga pool recently, and plans to begin operations soon. Mayor Zeiger said, if at all possible, he would like the pool open by Memorial Day weekend, however, Burton said it might be better to just open on weekends until school gets out. An exact date for opening the pool has not been set. Saratoga Town Engineer Chuck Bartlett said fees at the Saratoga Lake campground would be raised.

“We discussed in the last budget meeting about increasing the electric bill [at the campground] from $10 to $15. As far as other spots, that do not have electric or water, we will increase them from $7 to $10,” Bartlett said the fees are fairly consistent with other campsites around the state.

Veterans Island

Open for Reservation

After Carbon Power and Light made their reservation for their company picnic, Zeiger and other town officials explained they would once again allow reservations for events on Veterans Island.

Early in April, the Town of Saratoga announced they would not allow reservations due to construction of the pedestrian bridge. However, Bartlett said the recent rise in water will delay the construction of the bridge.

“I seriously doubt we are going to get a crane until middle of July now,” Bartlett said.

Because of the delay with construction, Zeiger said the town will take reservations on the island, given the island does not flood.

“It now could potentially move into July and that is why we are saying that in June we will be able to [take reservations], if the river doesn’t rise, we will allow some activities,” Zeiger said.

The next Saratoga town council meeting takes place at 6 p.m, May 20 at Saratoga Town Hall.

 

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