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City Manager Updates Residents On Utility Franchise Discussions

Sheldon, Iowa — Sheldon city officials are in the midst of a discussion about the possibility of entering into a franchise agreement with MidAmerican Energy, the company that provides natural gas and electric service in Sheldon.

A franchise agreement with MidAmerican would allow the utility to collect a franchise fee from its customers, which it then pays to the city, helping to take some of the strain off the City Budget. City Manager Sam Kooiker tells KIWA that the discussion of a franchise agreement between the City of Sheldon and MidAmerican Energy is nothing new.

He says Hull and Rock Valley each entered into franchise agreements with MidAmerican over the past several years, and Sheldon decided it was time to at least explore the idea a couple of years ago.

Kooiker says the next step in the process is a public meeting that’s set for later this month.

He says people have told him that adding a franchise fee feels like paying a tax.

Kooiker says the funds generated by a franchise fee would, most likely, be used for the city’s emergency services departments, since that’s where the greatest need exists.

At their regular meeting this past Wednesday the Sheldon City Council talked about utilizing potential franchise fees for the emergency service departments, citing the skyrocketing cost of equipment for those departments. The budget for next year includes the purchase of vehicles for three of the city’s four emergency services departments. The fire department will be getting a new truck that will cost more than a half-million dollars, SCAT is in line for a new ambulance at a cost of $200-thousand, and the police department will be getting two new patrol cruisers at a cost of a little more than $50-thousand each by the time they’re equipped with radios, computers, cameras and emergency equipment.

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