What is a franchise fee? Answer: It is a tax by indirect means. Nevertheless, it is a tax; it just sounds better than the word “tax.” The proposed electric utility franchise fee increase, which will be on the ballot for the May 21 special election, if passed, will tax everybody who pays for electricity within the city of Hailey.
The problem I am having with supporting this increase is in the city government’s attitude of “tax more, spend more” for new projects while maintenance of existing infrastructure is always a back-burner or low-priority obligation.
According to the city of Hailey’s April newsletter (in which I strongly encourage everyone to read the section about the May election), Hailey has maintenance needs that exceed our budget. They say we have historical snowfall and unexpected flood repair. How many times do we have to have these things before they figure out that they should be budgeted for? Then there are things like street and sidewalk repair that are being serviced by an aging fleet of equipment. Yet they are happy to spend this new proposed revenue on new pet projects, and the wording of this proposed increase allows for exactly that. If the wording had been “of” instead of “and improvements to,” meaning that the new revenue generated could only be used for maintenance of existing infrastructure, I would have supported it.
If you agree with me about this, show this to all your friends and neighbors and encourage them to get out and vote on May 21.
It is my wish that the City Council and mayor fund all our maintenance needs before spending money on new, and even unfinished, pet projects.
Bob Hoskins, Hailey