MACo: Keep Local Fee Decisions Local

On February 23, 2016 MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified in opposition of SB 632, Underground Conduit System – Rate Modification Imposed by Local Jurisdiction – Notice, Hearing, and Appeal, to the Senate Finance Committee.

This bill obliges local governments to follow several procedural steps in setting conduit rental rates, and grants the state Public Service Commission an appeal authority for aggrieved parties.

From the MACo testimony,

SB 632 impedes the autonomy a local jurisdiction has over its underground conduit system. The bill would require a county to publish notice and hold a public hearing before it may modify an existing rate charged for use of its underground conduit system, or before it may implement a charge for use.

These restrictions could compel duplicative or confusing processes above and beyond those already used by local governments under their own adopted laws for public participation.

The bill also creates an unprecedented appeals process for utility companies to challenge the local jurisdiction’s action. The Public Service Commission would have the authority to determine the reasonableness of the local jurisdiction’s decision – an area beyond the charge or expertise of the Commission.

Counties own and manage hundreds of miles of underground conduit systems and strongly oppose these requirements. Jurisdictions that lease their conduits would become restricted in their ability to change rates for use and those that do not currently lease their conduits would face hurdles should they wish to do so.

For more on 2016 MACo testimony, visit the Legislative Database.