Anyone watching cable television will be chipping in a little extra to balance Payson’s budget.
The Payson Town Council last week approved the first increase in the franchise fee for cable television. The town’s cut of your cable bill will rise from 3 percent to 4 percent. The increase will add less than a dollar a month to the bill for most people.
Town Attorney Tim Wright said the franchise fee amounts to the lease of town-owned streets, since most of the cable network is buried under or alongside the public streets.
“It’s like the rental of their ability to use the streets,” said Wright.
The town currently collects about $60,000 from the cable fee. The change should bring in an extra $20,000, said Wright.
Councilor Ed Blair said that he checked his $125 cable bill and determined the tax he paid to the town was about $2.
Mindful of raising fees in an election year, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said, “I’ve looked at this. We’re providing a service (streets) that has a value to them. Now they’re generating $125 per household with all the ancillary services that come over that same cable over those same streets. This will raise the bill a minimal amount, although $20,000 is not a lot of money” given the town’s $10 million general fund budget.
However, Councilor Fred Carpenter said he opposed increasing the fee.
“This fee is still passed onto residents, so I would still oppose the motion” to raise the fee.
Councilor Su Connell, however, said, “the increase is going to be minimal, so I support after 10 years that we increase it.”
The council then voted 5-1 in favor of the cable fee hike, with Carpenter in opposition and Councilor Rick Croy absent.