Franchise fee vote reflected changing times

As reported by The Durango Herald on June 19, the board of the La Plata Electric Association and the Durango City Council discussed how to bring a new franchise agreement before city voters in time for the general election this November. The renewal of the franchise agreement was rejected by property owners in April.

Christina Rinderle, after the meeting, said the city had a “communication problem” rather than a “content problem” because voters did not understand what they were voting for. For the City Council’s information, the property owners who voted to end the Franchise Agreement were well informed.

Did the City Council have a communication problem? Or is it the City Council’s belief that voters really did not understand why they voted to end the 20-year-old franchise agreement?

Maybe 20 years ago, this was a satisfactory arrangement between the city and LPEA, but in today’s world, the old agreement is out of touch with the changes and needs of city residents. It was the City Council that failed to disclose the facts of the issue, hoping the franchise agreement would pass. Why? Well, that is what politicians do, isn’t it?

LPEA board members Britt Bassett and Pam Patton indicated they would support the franchise fee for the city of Durango. However, Patton further stated that the city would be creating “a problem you don’t want to have since a consumption-based fee would have to be figured at a higher rate to generate the same amount of revenue.”

I agree with Patton’s statement, with one exception. There is no such thing as a consumption fee.

When a governmental body – the city of Durango – receives revenue from consumption of a commodity– electricity in this case – it is an excise tax, not a fee. Don’t forget that the city also levies another 2˝ percent sales tax on top of the tax.

Finally, what gives the City Council the right to throw out the April election because it did not like the results? Why? Well, that’s what politicians do, isn’t it?

Don Marwin