Waterloo to impose franchise fee on MidAmerican Energy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo to impose franchise fee on MidAmerican Energy

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A tight budget means the Waterloo City Council is being creative when looking at how to raise revenue.

Monday night, the council took up the issue of charging a franchise fee for electricity and natural gas to current provider MidAmerican Energy.

Jim Glaspie came to the Waterloo City Council meeting frustrated by what he thinks is nickle-and-diming done by the city for years.

He told them so at a public hearing over an electricity and natural gas franchise fee to MidAmerican Energy.

"I think it's a way you people get off from doing your jobs as keeping the city budget under control by passing it on to another company to accept your failure to meet your obligations to the citizens of Waterloo," said Glaspie.

Council members say it's a choice between the franchise fee, higher property taxes or laying off workers and cutting services.

"We could cut $1 million out of the budget right now if we laid off 5 police officers and 5 firefighters. That's what it costs. $850K-$1 million. I don't want to do that," said council member Carolyn Cole.

Business leaders say industry will be forced to pay much more.

"The introduction of a new fee with the stated intention of extending it into future years and continuing to increase it over time is troubling," said Steve Dust, executive director of the Cedar Valley Alliance.

Council members voted 5-2 to approve a 2 percent fee to MidAmerican this year and add another 1 percent next year.

Waterloo mayor Buck Clark says most people should see nominal increases in their electric bills and shouldn't negatively impact the city's business climate.

"It's being charged universally across the country. I think it's something business and industry become accustomed to and expect. I don't think it's a big deal and I don't think it'll have any effect on business and industry in Waterloo," said Clark.

The changes take effect July 1.

A MidAmerican representative in attendance said the company takes a neutral stance on the issue.

The 2 percent charge will be passed on to customers this summer - which would add about $10-15 to the average yearly bill.

City officials say even though power bills may be a bit higher, it's much cheaper than the alternative would have been - a hike in property taxes.

The city must submit its budget to the state by march 15.

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