Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2003

City council OKs contract with Sprint

November 19, 2003

After nearly three years without one, Baldwin and telephone company Sprint have a new franchise agreement.

In one of the shortest meetings in Baldwin City Council history -- only 10 minutes -- the council members approved in a 4-0 vote a franchise agreement that requires Sprint to collect a 3-percent franchise fee to be paid to the city.

City Administrator Jeff Dingman told the council at the Nov. 3 meeting that since the expiration of the original agreement in 2000, Sprint has continued collecting a 3 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 at the last meeting that recent changes in legislation 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 wanted to have a franchise agreement with the city before that time.

Dingman said the city is permitted to require a 5 percent franchise fee, but, because the cost is passed to the Baldwin customers, wanted to keep the fee at 3 percent. He said Baldwin residents shouldn't see a percentage increase on the franchise fee charged.

Even though the city reached a new agreement with Sprint, Mayor Ken Hayes said there were some issues that needed to be addressed with the phone company.

Hayes said he had heard concerns from citizens and business owners about problems with the service Sprint provides Baldwin, especially with the high-speed Internet and high long distance rates.

"I think it's the fact that we're kind of behind the times compared to other municipalities," he said.

Hayes said the city will look into the concerns.

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