City of Fort Lauderdale Opposes the “Energy Choice” Amendment
The amicus curiae, CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE, CITY OF HOLLYWOOD, CITY OF POMPANO BEACH, and TOWN OF DAVIE, are municipal governments (hereinafter collectively the “Municipal Governments”) that represent approximately 550,000 citizens of Florida. Both the Municipal Governments and their citizens are consumers of electricity provided by investorowned utilities (the “IOUs”), and rely upon consistent and dependable service for their activities every day. Maintaining reliable electrical service is critical for the economic well-being of the Municipal Governments and the citizens they represent.
The Municipal Governments also collect taxes and fees from the IOUs in order to provide essential services to their citizens. The Municipal Governments have franchise agreements with the IOUs that allow the IOUs to use the Municipal Governments’ right-of-ways in exchange for franchise fees. The substantial and valuable property of the IOUs is also subject to property tax by the Municipal Governments. If those taxes and fees are reduced or eliminated, the Municipal Governments will face significant budget shortfalls to the detriment of their citizens.
The Proposed Amendment may create significant financial harm to the Municipal Governments. The Proposed Amendment will ban the franchise agreements the Municipal Governments have long given the IOUs in exchange for payment of franchise fees. Property taxes the IOUs pay will also decline dramatically because the Proposed Amendment forces the IOUs, in a short time and with little to no bargaining power, to divest themselves of properties with billions of dollars in value. When these properties are sold in potential “fire sales,” the property values will likely drop significantly, resulting in much lower property tax revenues to the Municipal Governments. The combined loss of franchise fees and taxes throughout the state is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This will force the Municipal Governments to either cut or decrease essential services or increase other taxes.
Read their full legal brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court here.