Archive for Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Council reviews Sprint franchise agreement

November 5, 2003

There hasn't been one for nearly three years, but the city of Baldwin and the telephone company Sprint could soon renew their expired franchise agreement.

With the new franchise agreement, Baldwin residents shouldn't see a percentage increase on the franchise fee charged.

City Administrator Jeff Dingman told the Baldwin City Council Monday that the city's franchise agreement with Sprint expired in 2000. Since the expiration of the agreement, Sprint has continued collecting three percent franchise fee on basic phone services and paid the money to the city, which in 2002 was just less than $12,000.

Mary Peters, Sprint's public affairs manager, told the council recent changes in legislation have expanded the definition of basic phone service, and Sprint will be collecting franchise fees on additional features like call waiting and caller ID.

Peters said Sprint will start collecting the franchise fees as required for the additional features in January 2004, but would like to have a franchise agreement with the city before that time.

Dingman said the city is permitted to require a five percent franchise fee, but, because the cost is passed to the Baldwin customers, would like to keep the fee at three percent.

Council Member Ken Wagner said he didn't see why the three-percent fee needed to be increased.

Council Member Nancy Brown said she agreed.

"I think our citizens would just as soon as we didn't," she said. "We've raised enough other things lately."

Monday was just a first reading for the telecommunications franchise contract ordinance. The council will make a decision on the agreement with Sprint at the Nov. 17 council meeting.

In other business, the city council:

  • Discussed changing the city's two credit cards to five procurement cards. Dingman told the council currently he and the city clerk have credit cards, which must be borrowed if other city employees need them. He said currently he is liable for the credit card account.

He said the procurement cards, which would be through Bank of America, would be used by the five department heads. The cards have the flexibility of charge cards and the program places the liability on the city. He said a limit could be set at $500 per purchase.

He said the program would eliminate the need for many small purchase orders by combining the five departments into one invoice.

There were some concerns among department heads and city council members of how the cards would work if the purchase was more than $500.

Dingman will continue to work on an agreement with Bank of America that would solve some of the council's concerns.

  • Approved in a 5-0 vote a cereal malt beverage license to Mike Magers and the Salt Mine.
  • Discussed allowing the Douglas County Amateur Radio Club to place an antenna on the north water tower for emergency communications.

The council remanded the issue to the utility committee for a recommendation.

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