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City of Decorah now has a franchise agreement with Alliant Energy

Posted: Tue, Sep 8, 2020 6:08 PM

The Decorah City Council has approved a third and final reading of a franchise agreement with Alliant Energy.  The vote ends a lengthy fight between the City of Decorah and the utility, with the city filing a complaint with the Iowa Utilities Board that Alliant was illegally using the threat of charging high fees on the Locust Road project in order to coerce the city into approving a franchise agreement.

But Friday the Iowa Utilities Board staff filed an opinion that Alliant was not guilty of wrongdoing.

That led to a 6-1 vote Tuesday evening by the city council to approve the franchise agreement, with city council member Steve Luse the lone dissenting vote.

Discussion Tuesday night was limited to the topic of a franchise fee--a charge added onto utility bills, with the money going to the City of Decorah.  The fee will be raised to 3 percent as of next July 1st and to 4 percent as of July of 2022.

The city council has stated the money should go towards projects within the right-of-way of streets and highways or programs that serve the general purpose of the city.  City officials say the new utility franchise fees would be a "diversification of revenue" for the city government, allowing it to depend less on property tax revenues.