KILLIAN – Proposed franchise fees for utilities and other services offered within the town came under fire from a former councilman at the monthly meeting Feb. 12.

The 5-percent hike in fees the council proposed in a public hearing will ultimately come from the pockets of the town residents, Vince Diliberto said.  

“This is not a fee – it’s a tax on the people,” he said. “I’m going by what it says on my bill, so when it says you raise the franchise fee by 5 percent, it looks like a backdoor sales tax on the people.”

The fee represents 5 percent of the amount the entities collect from customers within the corporate limits.  

The franchise fees apply to customers of Charter Communications, Diversion Water Co., DEMCO, EATEL, Entergy and Mo-Dad Utilities LLC.

Mayor Gillis Windham said he believes most of the companies will absorb some of the fee.  

The fees will generate an estimated $85,000 per year for the town, Windham said in January.

Diliberto, a retiree, said he cannot absorb the extra costs on a fixed income.

“I don’t make $80,000 or $90,000 like some of you do up here,” he said.

Most municipalities levy a franchise fee on utilities and services, which help them bear the expenses on upkeep, such as roads and culverts, council member Blaine Lemaire said.

Diliberto said the responsibility to fix roads falls on the shoulders of the parish.

Lemaire responded that the town is responsible for upkeep and repairs to roads in the corporate limits.

The parish fixes roads in city limits at its own discretion, Windham said.

“They do it because they want to, and not because they have to,” he said. “They do it here for the political aspects.”

The increase in franchise fees follows suit with most other communities, Windham said.

It also provides more income to Killian, which does not collect a sales tax.

Windham said Springfield is the only area municipality he knows that does not levy a franchise fee.

“And that’s because they get $300,000 in sales tax per year,” he said.

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