Granby, Grand Lake no longer have frachise agreements with Mountain Parks Electric | SkyHiNews.com

Granby, Grand Lake no longer have frachise agreements with Mountain Parks Electric

Tonya Bina
tbina@grandcountynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

A Mountain Parks Electric directive could either put dents in town budgets or ” if renegotiated ” salvage longtime revenue streams.

What is clear is that franchise agreements are at issue.

Franchise fees, added to consumers’ utility bills within town jurisdictions, are paid to towns for a utility company’s privilege of providing service within those towns. For Mountain Parks Electric, that means supplying electricity to consumers.

Prior to last January, Mountain Parks had a fee of 2 percent tacked on to utility bills of Grand Lake and Granby residents, which amounted to about $2 per month for the average consumer.

This fee generated about $24,000 a year for the town of Grand Lake and $45,000-$50,000 for the town of Granby.

Towns used the money to fund various services such as street maintenance, parks and general administration.

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But three years of negotiations between Mountain Parks Electric and each of the two towns to renew the agreements reportedly went sour prior to expiration of the fees. Granby’s expired Jan. 11, Grand Lake’s expired Jan. 8.

“We had tried repeatedly with towns to get them renewed over three years,” said Mountain Parks General Manager Joe Pandy.

Pandy said normally franchise agreements are for 20-year periods, but Granby and Grand Lake sought short-term extensions.

“Finally the Mountain Parks board said, ‘Let’s let them expire,’ and we did,” Pandy said.

Mountain Parks maintains that legally, it can serve customers in the geographic location in which it has served without franchise agreements.

Since negotiations seized last January, “I’m not aware where the Mountain Parks Board stands on it currently,” Pandy said.

Both Granby and Grand Lake have listed the Co-op’s franchise payments as revenues in draft 2009 budgets.

“It’s frustrating. It’s a lot of money to the town.” said Grand Lake Town Manager Shane Hale.

Grand Lake did seek 12-month extensions to keep the franchise agreement going through negotiations, and offered to accept a 20-year agreement, Hale said.

According to Hale, the town is still waiting for a response from Mountain Parks. “It’s been my understanding Mountain Parks didn’t want to do franchises anymore,” Hale said. “We’re still waiting for a counter proposal.”

On Monday, the town board entered an executive session with Town Attorney Scott Krob to discuss the franchise situation.

As far as Granby, Pandy said he is aware franchise funds are in its town draft budget.

Granby has not yet resumed talks with Mountain Parks about the agreement, according to Town Manager Wally Baird, but intends to do so.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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