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Local/Regional News

New Lex. Water Franchise Agreement Under Consideration

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Lexington’s Urban County Council discussed details of the city’s draft water franchise agreement at Tuesday’s work session. 

The document has several key differences from its predecessor.  Chief among them are lowering the agreement’s duration from 20 years to 5, setting the franchise fee at 3% of revenue, with the ability to increase it to 5%, and changes to several fines, including a $500 per day penalty for unfinished construction projects.  City Counsel Mason Miller says the water company must also comply with section 17 of Lexington’s zoning ordinance, from which most utilities are exempt. 

“There were issues where the water company would come in, let’s say right after a road was repaved, and cut it again.  Now, they’ll be put under the same ordinance, and so it really becomes a question of if you really want to address those issues, you do it through the ordinance.  That’s where your teeth are found also.  There’s penalties within that ordinance for violations that can be imposed and ostensibly can be changed," he said.

In response to Councilmember Jennifer Mossotti’s inquiries about alternatives to Kentucky American Water, Miller says the city’s possibilities include offering franchise rights to a different firm, or buying the water company outright and providing services directly. 

The franchise agreement will receive first reading at Thursday’s council meeting and will likely be up for full consideration in January.  More information can be found in the packet for Tuesday’s work session, available at lexingtonky.gov.