Update (Jan 29, 2014): The Taxpayer Fairness Act passed the Bernalillo County Commission last night. This story from the Albuquerque Journal:
Bernalillo County commissioners on Tuesday narrowly agreed to impose new fees on utility companies that bury lines beneath county roads or otherwise use public rights of way.
The measure was adopted 3-2 along party lines, with Democrats in the majority.
It doesn’t set a specific fee. Instead, utilities would have to negotiate an agreement with the county to set the fee…
..In support of the fee proposal were Democrats Debbie O’Malley, De La Cruz and Maggie Hart Stebbins. Opposed were Johnson and Lonnie Talbert.
It’s a basic fact: when some taxpayers don’t pay their fair share, the rest of us pay more.
Tonight, the Bernalillo County will hear a measure to end the practice of Albuquerque City residents subsidizing utility costs for their neighbors in the rest of the county.
The lobbyist for New Mexico’s big utility companies started a ‘grassroots’ pro-business group and she’s fired up the Tea Party and Tea Party-Commissioner Wayne Johnson to protect PNM’s profits.
What is this all about? When big utilities like PNM and NM Gas Co. tear up our roads and rights-of-way to install or maintain power, water or other utilities, they are required to pay for the cost of repairs to our public property. In the city, utility companies charge residents a small franchise fee as a part of their bill to cover that cost.
But utility users in unincorporated parts of the county don’t pay the same fee, leaving all county taxpayers – city and county residents alike – on the hook for the unexpected costs to fix the utility company’s mess. The proposal before the commission tonight levels the playing field, ensuring that city residents aren’t paying more than their county neighbors.
Last night, our local Tea Party sent out an action alert with a message from a big utility company lobbyist. Our commissioners are ready to do the right thing, but not if they only hear from the Tea Party and big industry lobbyists happy to preserve the status quo.
Send a quick message to the County Commission and tell them to level the playing field for all taxpayers by passing the Taxpayer Fairness Act.