Article XI. Franchises And Public Utilities  


Section 1. Inalienability of Public Property. The right of control and use of the public streets, highways, sidewalks, alleys, parks, public squares, waterways, public places, and other real property of the City is hereby declared to be inalienable by the City, except by ordinances not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter. No act or omission by the Council or any officer or agent of the City shall be construed to grant, renew, extend, or amend by estoppel or indirection any right, franchise or easement affecting said public streets, highways, sidewalks, alleys, parks, public squares, waterways, public places and other real property.

Section 2. Power to Grant Franchise. The Council shall have the power by ordinance to grant, renew, and extend all franchises of all public utilities of every character operating within the City, and, with consent of the franchise holder, to amend the same. No franchise shall be for a term of more than fifty (50) years from the date of its grant, renewal or extension.

Section 3. Ordinance Granting Franchise. Every ordinance granting, renewing, extending or amending a public utility franchise shall be read at three regular meetings of the Council, and shall not be finally acted upon until thirty (30) days after the first reading thereof. Within five (5) days following each of the three readings of the ordinance, the full text thereof shall be published one time in the official newspaper of the City, and the expense of the such publication shall be borne by the prospective franchise holder. No such ordinance shall become effective until the expiration of sixty (60) days following the date of its final adoption by the Council, and every such ordinance shall be subject to the referendum procedures provided by State Law and this Charter.

Section 4. Transfer of Franchise. No public utility franchise shall be transferred by the holder thereof, except with the approval of the Council expressed by ordinance; provided, however, that such approval of the Council shall not be withheld with respect to a transfer of a franchise incident to the creation or foreclosure of a mortgage, or other instrument of security, executed in good faith for the purpose of financing or refinancing the public utility operations of the franchise holder.

Section 5. Regulation of Franchise. Every public utility franchise, whether so provided therein or not, shall be subject to the right of the Council:

(1) To forfeit any such franchise by ordinance at any time for failure of the holder thereof to comply with the terms of the franchise, such power to be exercised only after notice and hearing, and a reasonable opportunity to correct the default.

(2) To impose reasonable regulations to insure safe, efficient and continuous service to the public.

(3) To require such expansion and extension of plants and facilities as are reasonably necessary to provide adequate service to the public.

(4) To require every franchise holder to furnish to the City, without cost to the City, full information regarding the location, character and extent of all facilities of such franchise holder in, over and under the streets, alleys, and other public property of the City, and to regulate and control the location, relocation, and removal of any part of such facilities whenever required in the public interest.

(5) To collect from every public utility operating in the City such proportion of the expense of excavating, grading, paving, repaving, constructing, reconstructing, draining, repairing, maintaining, alleys, bridges, culverts, viaducts and other public places of the City as represents the increased cost of such operations resulting from the occupancy of such public places by such public utility, and such proportion of the costs of such operations as results from the damage to or disturbance of such public places caused by such public utility, or to compel such public utility to perform, at its own expense, such operations as above listed that are made necessary by the occupancy of such public places by such utility or by damage to or disturbance of such public places caused by such public utility.

(6) To require every franchise holder to allow other public utilities holding a franchise from the City to use its tracks, poles, or other facilities, including bridges and viaducts, wherever in the judgement of the Council such use shall be in the public interest, provided that in such event a reasonable compensation shall be paid such owner of facilities for such use. Provided further, that inability of such public utilities to agree upon the compensation to be paid for use of such facilities shall not be an excuse for failure to comply with such requirement by the Council.

(7) (a) To require the keeping of accounts in such form as will accurately reflect the cost of the property of each franchise holder which is used and useful in rendering its service to the public and the expense, gross receipts and profits of all kinds of such franchise holder; provided, however, that any utility which keeps its books in accordance with a standard system of accounts or those prescribed by a Federal or State regulatory agency will be considered to have complied with any Council order passed under this section.

(b) To examine and audit at any time during business hours the accounts and other records of any franchise holder relevant to the City's right of regulation.

(c) To require annual and other reports on the local operations of the utility, which shall be in such form and contain such information relevant to the City's right of regulation as the Council shall prescribe.

(8) To require and collect any tax, compensation, and rental not now or hereafter prohibited by the laws of this State.

(9) To require such franchise holders who request an increase in rates, charges or fares, to reimburse the City for reasonable expenses incurred in employing rate consultants to conduct investigations, present evidence and advise the Council on such requested increase.

Section 6. Regulation of Rates. The Council shall have full power after notice and hearing to regulate by ordinance the rates, charges and fares of every public utility franchise holder operating in the City. Provided that no such ordinance shall be passed as an emergency measure. Any franchise holder requesting an increase in its rates, charges, or fares shall have, at the hearing on such request, the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence the fair value of the property of such franchise holder devoted to furnishing service to the City or the inhabitants thereof, and the amount and character of its expenses and revenues. The Council shall act on any request for a change in rates, charges, or fares within a reasonable time after such request has been presented. No franchise holder shall institute any legal action to contest any rate, charge, or fare fixed by the Council until such franchise holder has filed a motion for rehearing with the Council specifically setting out each ground of its complaint against the rate, charge, or fare fixed by the Council, and until the Council shall have acted upon such motion. Such motion shall be deemed overruled unless acted upon by the Council within a reasonable time, not to exceed sixty (60) days from the filing of such motion.

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)

(Ord. No. 96-59, § 14, 6-16-96)