Cable-TV bills in unincorporated Jeffco could increase

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Commissioners eye different method of calculating fee that would boost revenue

By Ramsey Scott

Bills for cable TV in unincorporated Jeffco could increase, depending on how the county commissioners decide to charge cable companies for their licensing agreements. 

Currently all four cable providers in the county have been operating on month-to-month licensing agreements since their agreements with Jeffco to use public rights-of-way for cable lines expired. 

As Jeffco works to renew agreements with the cable providers, the county commissioners must decide if they are going to change how the county charges for a license to provide cable TV. Currently the county charges cable providers $0.02 per linear foot of cable line in county rights-of-way, producing about $107,000 in revenue a year. 

The commissioners will decide whether to retain that rate, increase it to $0.04 per linear foot — which would bring in $214,000 annually for the county — or change how the rate is based to how much revenue cable companies generate in the county. 

That third option, referred to as a “gross revenue agreement,” would charge cable companies a rate no higher than 5 percent of their gross revenues from county subscribers. If the county applied the full 5 percent revenue fee, the projected revenues could be over $1 million. It depends on if the county applied the full 5 percent fee on the gross revenues generated from subscribers in the county. Many counties across the nation are switching to gross revenue agreements. 

But no matter what option the county chooses, subscribers would pay the costs. Cable companies are allowed to pass on fees to their customers. 

The county estimates that the third option would increase cable bills within the county up to $42 a year. Currently county subscribers pay $3.12 a year for county fees. 

While the third option would increase revenues and would mean less work for county staff as they calculate how many feet of cable go through county rights-of-way, the county commissioners were concerned with increasing cable bills. 

The county has directed staff to look at what an appropriate fee would be and what, if they were to apply the fee, the money would be spent on.

“If we decide to go with option three and do the 5 percent, it needs to be related back to those paying that fee. Hey, the reason we’re doing this is for road improvement …,” County Commissioner Don Rosier said. “We need to pass that information along to the voters, to the residents of unincorporated Jefferson County, so they understand that if their fees were to go up, this is how the dollars will be used — not that it’s going to go into a black hole.”