Governor signs Des Moines franchise fee increase

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines has another option for paying off nearly $40 million the courts say it owes utility ratepayers who were charged excess franchise fees by the city.

Gov. Terry Branstad last week signed a bill that permits the city to ask voters to OK an increase in the fee charged electricity and gas customers of MidAmerican Energy to 7½ percent from the current 5 percent. The Legislature passed the measure as part of a larger government funding bill.

Last year Branstad vetoed it but this year he let the measure go through.

The city must first hold a referendum. If it passes the city may increase the tax, which means most of the same 100,000 customers the city overcharged in the past will be taxed to pay themselves back.

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