WIUM Tristates Public Radio

West Burlington Latest Talking Franchise Fee

Mar 5, 2013

West Burlington is trying to get ahead of a potential loss of revenue.

City Administrator Dan Gifford says he has talked with Alliant Energy about replacing a 1% local option sales tax on gas and electric bills with a 1% franchise fee.

He says it is in response to Burlington’s proposed 3% franchise fee.  Burlington is moving ahead with the fee to prevent an even larger increase in its property tax rate.

Local option sales tax revenue from utility bills throughout Des Moines County is pooled and divided between participating communities and the county through a funding formula.

The revenue from a franchise fee, though, goes directly to the enacting city and can be used as needed.

So without Burlington participating, the pot of local option sales tax revenue would shrink.

Gifford says the West Burlington City Council is not interested in implementing the franchise fee if Burlington’s plan does not proceed.

Most residents would not notice the fee with the local option sales tax already in place.

Gifford says there would be some organizations that are currently exempt from the sales tax that would have to pay the franchise fee, including the West Burlington School District and SCC.

He says it could be the end of the year before the franchise fee is implemented.


West Burlington is also preparing to sell the land where a former school once stood.

Gifford says crews were almost able to complete the demolition of the former middle school before the recent winter storms hit.

He says all that is left to do is some clean-up and site restoration.

Gifford says the city has started the process of subdividing 311 Ramsey Street into four lots for residential development.

He expects three to be sold at an auction within the next 90 days to meet a state requirement that West Burlington receive fair market value for the properties.

The city is still trying to determine how to sell the fourth lot.

It is being targeted for low-to-moderate income use. so an auction may not be an option.

The city purchased the building from the West Burlington School District for one dollar.