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FD council to vote on franchise fees again

Support for Nestle Purina also on agenda

Proposed utility franchise fees that would generate $2.4 million a year to pay for hiring eight more police officers will come before the Fort Dodge City Council tonight for a second vote.

The council is also scheduled to act on providing up to $1.6 million to support an expansion of the Nestle Purina PetCare plant at 2400 Fifth Ave. S. That money will not come from the proposed franchise fees, however.

The council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 819 First Ave. S., with a workshop at which the elected officials will receive the annual report of the Historic Preservation Commission.

The council’s business meeting will begin at 6 p.m. That’s when the franchise fees will be considered again.

The proposed franchise fees would be 5 percent added to both the electric and gas bills of MidAmerican Energy customers.

If the franchise fees are implemented, the 1 percent local option sales tax would be removed from those bills.

The result would be a net increase of $3.68 per month on average residential electric bills, according to figures provided by the city.

There would also be a net increase of $3.18 per month on average residential gas bills, according to those figures.

Revenue from the franchise fees would pay for hiring eight more police officers, increasing the force to 48 members over two years.

Revenue from the franchise fees would also enable the city to reduce that part of the property tax rate that goes toward paying off general obligation bond debt. Currently, that specific levy is $4.50 per $1,000 of taxable value. If the franchise fees are approved, that levy would be reduced by $1 per $1,000 of taxable value.

The rest of the money from the fees would help to support the Karl L. King Municipal Band, Citizens Central and infrastructure projects.

The council approved the fees on the first reading during its Jan. 22 meeting. They must be approved two more times to become law.

Nestle Purina project

The pet food maker is planning a $200 million expansion that will create 50 new jobs, according to a report to the council from Vickie Reeck, the city’s community and economic development manager.

The company has applied for some financial aid from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. That state assistance will require some local government support.

The plan before the City Council would provide up to $1.6 million over 10 years. That money would come from tax increment financing, which occurs when increased property tax revenue from a designated area is set aside to be reinvested in that area.

Tonight, the council will consider a resolution declaring its intention to provide that $1.6 million if the state assistance is approved.

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