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Townships soon to collect cable franchise fees

Approximately $150,000 a year in cable television franchise fees will soon go into the pockets of individual townships in Lawrence County.

Lawrence County Commission president Jason Stephens said a resolution to turn over all cable fees after Dec. 21, 2002 to each township is being readied for commission approval.

The county had been collecting the money and using it with the understanding that the county was entitled to the money.

Trustees from Fayette, Union and some other townships disagreed, arguing that state law gives them claim to the money.

The Lawrence County Prosecutor's office issued an opinion that state law indeed does require the money to go to the townships.

Stephens said years ago when the county first began collecting the fee, the money amounted to approximately $14,000 annually.

He said he wasn't sure how the loss of $150,000 a year will affect the county's already-tight budget.

"It will have an impact," Stephens said. "How much of an impact, it's hard to say. We're just going to have to look at the whole picture."

Stephens said he hopes that the townships will consider spending the money on fire service and on parks and recreation, two areas in which the county has historically helped townships.

Fayette Township Trustee Terry Wise said the money will probably be spent on necessities right now.

"The state cut our money back, and the cutbacks amounted to about $40,000. I have heard that we might get about $40,000 (from the cable franchise fee), although I think that's a little high. But this helps us make up some of the money we've lost," Wise said.

Townships will get a five percent fee from each bill of each customer within that township.

Wise laments that the townships have not gotten the money all along.

"South Point and Chesapeake and Proctorville have gotten this money for the last 18 years and the townships haven't," Wise said. "Eighteen years ago, someone done us wrong."

"It's about time we get this money," Fayette Township trustee Perry Brock said.