Lexington officials are looking into ways to keep the lights on along city streets. The pace of installing street lights in recent years has exceeded the money available to pay for them. One option is to ask the utility to pay more in franchise fees to the city. Chief Administrative Officer, Richard Moloney says the franchise fee might go from three to four percent.
“We’re talking to them about possibly increasing it to pay our street lights which we’re about two and a half million dollars shortfall right now,” said Moloney.
Moloney says the shortfall came about after a decision several years ago to roll back property taxes set aside to pay for street lights.
“They said we broke even at that time but as our subdivisions starting growing..we couldn’t catch up with the pace…and we started falling way behind in paying our street light fees,” added Moloney.
Any increase in the franchise fee would probably be passed on to citizens. Council member Kevin Stinnett says the issue needs more study.
“We got to look at our other fees that we are currently charging…do we still need those on the books…like the landfill fee…are we overcharging for that is there a way to make it tax neutral….that’s what I’d be looking at first,” said Stinnett.
Moloney, meanwhile, says raising property taxes is not a feasible option. He says it would take 30 years to pay for street light costs. No formal recommendation has yet to be considered by the council.