Townsend tries to resurrect franchise fees repeal | NevadaAppeal.com

Townsend tries to resurrect franchise fees repeal

Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, late Friday made a last-minute attempt to revive legislation that would eliminate franchise fees collected by local governments.

But local officials headed off the move, finding enough support among other Senators to block the amendment and Townsend withdrew it without a vote.

He introduced a bill earlier in the session to eliminate the fees, which local governments have collected from utilities and other users of the public rights of way for more than a hundred years.

Originally, the fees were charged only on traditional utilities: Water and sewer, gas and electric and telephone companies. They have grown in importance and monetary value in recent years with the addition of cable TV and wireless services. Nevada Association of Counties officials testified those fees now account for nearly 10 percent of local government revenues – more than $140 million a year.

Townsend’s own Commerce and Labor Committee voted to kill the bill last month.

But Friday, the final day for passage of legislation from the second house, Townsend resurrected part of that bill and attempted to amend it into AB371, legislation dealing with public financial administration requested by the state treasurer.

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The amendment would have phased out the franchise fees on wireless and cable TV services, decreasing them 1 percent each year until they reached zero.

That sent local government officials scrambling but, within a couple of hours, they had convinced a majority of 12 Senators to oppose the amendment.

Townsend pulled the amendment and the repeal of franchise fees again died.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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