Metro Council approves 2% LG&E fee - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council approves 2% LG&E fee

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---Some LG&E customers will now see an increase in their LG&E bill, after a vote passed at a Metro Council meeting.

In the last two weeks, council members have received close to 400 emails about the fee, with 99 percent of them against it.

The fee passed Thursday night by a vote of 12 to 10. One council member abstained from voting and others didn’t vote at all.

The 2 percent LG&E franchise fee comes two weeks after Mayor Greg Fischer proposed a 3 percent increase to help pay for more officers around the city.

He said this was a result of the March 22nd teen violence.

At 3 percent a year, some LG&E natural gas customers would have paid roughly $20 more a year.

With the 2 percent that was approved by council members, it would be $12 dollars a year for an average customer.

Instead of 10 years, council members approved the gas franchise agreement for 16 months.

Before the vote, council members debated for an hour and a half on whether the tax was needed.

“And while I had initially supported the franchise fee, I now have some serious reservations, especially after hearing from people in District 1 and people across the city of Louisville who have basically begged us not to pass this franchise fee. Yeah we were on national news, but we were also on national news on May 17th, 2012 and we don't have any cameras on 32nd street,” said Councilwoman Attica Scott of District 1.

"I think no one disagrees that public safety should be a priority in this budget. If it was, it would have been included in the budget. We've got extra dollars. We know that there's money to be found. We also know we're the third most commutatively taxed city of our peer cities. This makes our city (another tax) less attractive, less competitive, and it will also set a precedent for more taxes," said Councilwoman Marilyn Parker of District 18.

"The implication that somehow this franchise fee is intrinsically tied to public safety could not be more inaccurate," said Councilman Kevin Kramer of District 11.

“This is a state mandated fee. We are required to enter into this agreement of some sort,” said Councilwoman Cindi Fowler of District 14.

“It's falling disproportional on people least able to pay,” said Councilman Jerry Miller of District 19.

“You say there's been 383 emails out of 750,000 people that we represent here in this city. It's really a small amount and from all of the emails that I got, they were certainly more of the tea party tone, that don't want to pay a tax for anything,” said Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch of District 13.

"I'm probably more confused now than ever. I'm not even going to discuss the police part of this. My concern is the youth- the community centers and money in the budget for that," said Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin of District 2.

“It's really a tax that we're paying for the business people and poor people are always paying taxes for business people but not getting the benefits. That's why I spoke against it,” said community member Mary Touray, who was opposed to the fee.

“I think it's important we do this. It's only for 16 months and then they can figure out at a later date how they want to handle that moving forward, but we have to start this now and get it funded now because we're already falling behind,” said FOP President Dave Mutchler.

Now that this has passed Metro Council, it will now head to the mayor to officially sign.

Mayor Fischer responded Thursday evening by issuing the following statement:

"This is a great day for public safety in Louisville. The vote is a strategic investment in our city that will put more police officers on the street and increase programs for youth while benefiting our entire community. Citizens made clear their desire for enhanced public safety and additional investments in youth programs following the March 22 violence. This small fee, which for an average family is $1 per month, will help us continue to have a safe city for residents and visitors," said Mayor Greg Fischer.

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