'Yes' Vote On Franchises Makes Sense

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If you are opposed to red tape and bureaucracy, then you should march down to the polling places in Payson Tuesday and cast a ballot in favor of franchise agreements between the Town of Payson and APS and Energy West Inc.

These agreements will allow workers for the electric company and the gas company to do maintenance, repairs and installations along town roads without having to get a permit every time they need to turn a shovel of dirt.

In return, APS will pay the town $170,000 annually, which will be adjusted yearly for inflation. Energy West -- formerly Broken Bow Gas -- will pay the town 2 percent of its in-town sales. Both companies also pay other local taxes and fees.

The last time the town had a franchise election was 25 years ago. That's how long APS and Energy West have been working under the previous agreements, which began when the town incorporated. While a vote of the public is required by state law for a town to enter into a franchise agreement, the two companies are footing the bill for the cost of next Tuesday's election.

Approval of the new agreements will not mean exclusive use of town rights-of-way for APS and Energy West. Any other utility seeking a similar agreement can negotiate a proposal with town officials and have it put up for a vote by the public.

A vote Tuesday against the new agreements with APS and Energy West would be a vote in favor of more paperwork and bigger government. The utility companies would have to apply for permits, to be processed by a town employee, every time there's an outage and repairs need to be made, every time they need to patch a hole in a line or a pipe, every time they want to install improved equipment. That would have been more than 500 times for APS alone last year.

It's clear what your vote should be: YES, in favor of the two franchise agreements.

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