Early next year, the books should finally be closed on a lengthy and costly legal battle over Des Moines’ fees from gas and electric utility customers.
That is except for one thing: The city must figure out how to repay the $40 million in bonds it will issue to cover the court-ordered refunds. The city has no good options. It must either cut city services or raise additional revenue from property taxes or franchise fees, neither of which would be popular with Des Moines residents.
It’s easy to forgive the public for being confused about this issue, given its tortuous history and tangled web of legal issues. Since the city faces a difficult choice that will affect every resident in some way, it’s worth reviewing the franchise fee history and legal battle.