The News-Times editorial on Feb. 2, "Local squabbles also hit statewide," stated that the Georgia Municipal Association is opposed to counties collecting franchise fees from power companies and is trying to preserve the cities' preferential treatment.
GMA has never opposed counties collecting franchise fees from power companies; the legislature has just not given that authority to counties as it has cities. In fact, GMA is on record as saying that in some more urbanized counties where the public rights of way are more likely to be used by utilities to run lines, it makes sense for counties to collect franchise fees.
GMA and cities are opposed to the rate change request by Cobb County and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia for one basic reason: It is unfair. For years, city power customers shared in the expense of expanding power lines out into the rural areas and city power customers help pay the ad valorem taxes Georgia Power pays to counties for their multi-million dollar power generation plants.
Franchise fees in cities are simply payments by the power company to cities for using the public right of way for their lines. All of these expenses are a part of the cost of doing business that the power companies pass along to all customers. It is unfair to select one item from the list and apply it to only one class of customers. To do so opens up the door for city residents to demand equal treatment: no more paying county taxes on the generators located in unincorporated areas, no more paying for land acquisition for utilities to run lines in unincorporated areas, and no more paying for the larger cost of providing power in less urbanized areas.
The current rate system works, and for Cobb County and ACCG to seek at the PSC what they couldn't accomplish through the legislature is simply wrong.
Georgia Municipal Association
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