The motion to keep all of the current exemptions in place was approved on a 5-3 vote. Voting against the motion were councilors Megan England, Jennifer Gunby and Teresa Kelly.
The agreement passes along a five percent franchise fee that is charged to KCP&L customers and then handed over to the city in exchange for right of way access. The expiring agreement had exempted churches, schools, utilities, non profits and city and county government from the fee. Most cities have abandoned the exemptions and KCP&L is the only utility in Roeland Park that has exemptions in its agreement. The exemptions are the choice of the city, not the utility.
The exemptions cost the city more than $40,000 per year, but the fees the city would charge itself are more than $10,000 of the total. The council had split earlier this year on whether to remove the exemptions, keep them all or keep only a portion. St. Agnes Catholic Church sent a representative to the council in January to ask for the exemption to remain.
The franchise fee dilemma also was one of two controversial topics – the other being the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance – that was part of a community forum earlier this year drawing considerable public comment.