County cable bills will soon rise by 5 percent.
The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Friday to impose a franchise fee on county cable customers, similar to the fee already imposed on cable customers in Columbus and Caledonia.
The fee will claim 5 percent of the cable company”s gross revenues from county subscribers, but the cost will be passed along to customers in the form of a 5 percent increase to their bills.
County Administrator Ralph Billingsley could not provide an estimated annual yield from the fee because the number of cable subscribers in the county is unknown. He also didn”t know why the county had never enacted the franchise fee, which the city has collected for years.
Municipalities are allowed to impose the fee on cable companies in exchange for allowing the use of public land and easements to run wires.
The county has hired a consultant who specializes in negotiating franchise fees to establish the fee collection.
There is no word yet on how the fee will be spent, but one place it likely will not be spent is Magby Creek.
The supervisors tabled a discussion about paying $17,000 to place sensors in Magby Creek. The creek often floods the Masonic Subdivision in East Columbus after heavy rains and the sensors would provide several additional hours of warning of an imminent flood.
Monitoring and maintenance fees would follow each year.
The total cost of the sensors would be shared between the city and the county, but none of the supervisors expressed an interest in entering into the agreement.
“It won”t stop the flooding. It”s just a warning,” explained Billingsley.
“People there have been dealing with flooding for years. They know when it”s coming,” said District 1 Supervisors Harry Sanders. “I personally feel like it”s a waste of money.”
Billingsley also presented the board with the names of applicants to the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. The county has vacated its current appointments and will install three board members at its Jan. 31 meeting.
Applicants to fill the hotel/motel designation are Mark Castleberry and Cindy Putnam. The recommended candidate from the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link is Bart Wise.
At-large candidates include: David Sanders, George Swales, Charles Miller, Kathy Howell and Fred Kinder.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.