Fort Oglethorpe partnering with GMA to evaluate telecommunications fees
The city of Fort Oglethorpe is looking to possibly recoup some revenue from telecommunication companies in the area after inking a deal with the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) to find out if franchising fees have been properly paid out.
During the June 11 City Council meeting, City Manager Jennifer PayneSimpkins explained that municipalities commonly receive revenue from telecommunication companies, but that the city feels that certain variables have impacted how much of the revenue has come the city’s way.
We as a city should receive five-percent franchise fees from any wired company that provides cable or video services in our community,” PayneSimpkins said. “We have, to my knowledge, not audited these companies to see that they’re in compliance and that we’re in compliance with this rule.”
Payne-Simpkins and Mayor Earl Gray both pointed out that the city’s layout may be part of the problem.
“We also believe there is some telecommunications revenue that we’re likely missing out on because of different zip codes and different city addresses where folks
may have a Rossville address but they’re actually in the city of Fort Oglethorpe,” Payne-Simpkins explained. “So, GMA offers a program called Telecommunications and Right of Way, and they will actually come in and audit our cable and telecommunication companies’ franchise agreements to determine if we’re being paid correctly.”
The agreement with GMA comes at a cost, but Payne-Simpkins said the cost of the agreement is worth the potential benefit.
“If we’re being underpaid, they will work with the companies to collect the past three years of what we’ve been underpaid,” she said. “We recommend approval of this $5,260 contract because we believe the benefit will be much greater than the $5,260.”
The board unanimously approved the contract.
“Collect all you can,” Councilman Jim Childs said after the vote.
Mayor Earl Gray believes that the addressing of some areas of city is part of the issue.
“The problem, some of it, is due to our post office,” Gray said. “I don’t think we have any companies that have intentionally been not paying us. During my tenure of hanging around here, we’ve been to Washington three times trying to get this thing straightened out and we’ve just been beating our heads against the wall. So I personally think the $5,000 is going to be a good investment. I still blame it on the post office. Hopefully once we get the maps, get some help, and get it to the right people. … I think it’ll more than pay for the $5,000.”
Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Earl Gray discusses telecommunication franchising fees during the June 11 City Council meeting. (Catoosa News photo/ Adam Cook)