Article Comment 

Lowndes cable bills to see 5 percent increase


Jason Browne



County cable bills will soon rise by 5 percent. 


The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Friday to impose a franchise fee on county cable customers, similar to the fee already imposed on cable customers in Columbus and Caledonia. 


The fee will claim 5 percent of the cable company''s gross revenues from county subscribers, but the cost will be passed along to customers in the form of a 5 percent increase to their bills. 


County Administrator Ralph Billingsley could not provide an estimated annual yield from the fee because the number of cable subscribers in the county is unknown. He also didn''t know why the county had never enacted the franchise fee, which the city has collected for years. 


Municipalities are allowed to impose the fee on cable companies in exchange for allowing the use of public land and easements to run wires. 


The county has hired a consultant who specializes in negotiating franchise fees to establish the fee collection. 


There is no word yet on how the fee will be spent, but one place it likely will not be spent is Magby Creek. 


The supervisors tabled a discussion about paying $17,000 to place sensors in Magby Creek. The creek often floods the Masonic Subdivision in East Columbus after heavy rains and the sensors would provide several additional hours of warning of an imminent flood. 


Monitoring and maintenance fees would follow each year. 


The total cost of the sensors would be shared between the city and the county, but none of the supervisors expressed an interest in entering into the agreement. 


"It won''t stop the flooding. It''s just a warning," explained Billingsley. 


"People there have been dealing with flooding for years. They know when it''s coming," said District 1 Supervisors Harry Sanders. "I personally feel like it''s a waste of money." 


Billingsley also presented the board with the names of applicants to the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. The county has vacated its current appointments and will install three board members at its Jan. 31 meeting. 


Applicants to fill the hotel/motel designation are Mark Castleberry and Cindy Putnam. The recommended candidate from the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link is Bart Wise. 


At-large candidates include: David Sanders, George Swales, Charles Miller, Kathy Howell and Fred Kinder.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment hope commented at 1/16/2011 7:59:00 AM:

A municipality is a city or town. Could that be the reason the fees were not passed on to the county?
Why would a consultant have to be hired to determine the fees?


Article Comment hope commented at 1/17/2011 12:17:00 PM:

Why does the county need to raise taxes when they don't have any need for the money.
Billingsley says he doesn't understand why the supervisors had not done it sooner. Maybe we should have whoever gave authority for the taxes to be collected by municipalities the same for the county instead of by the supervisors.
In November the voters were in favor of downsizing our government and to cut taxes, but our supervisors decided to do right opposite by raising taxes and making our government bigger by hiring a consultant to tell the cable users in the county that their cable fees are going up by 5%. Please understand that most of our salaries don't come close to what Joe Higgins is paid.
It seems to me you raised the fees to show us you could. So what if Columbus- Caledonia pays the fees and the county doesn't. How about we ask the City to reimburse the county for half of the cost of the health department building that the county paid for. Why could you not use the interest money that's being drawn on the $30 million that belongs to the county, instead of raising our taxes?
If our supervisors need to spend some money, free garbage collections sound great.


Article Comment frank commented at 1/20/2011 9:37:00 PM:

"voters were in favor of downsizing our government and to cut taxes, but our supervisors decided to do right opposite by raising taxes and making our government bigger"

I would like to report a case of identity theft. Some Republican has obviously stolen Hopeless's user name and password on the CD site.


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