Albertville won’t allow cable rate increase

Increase would be necessary for televising council meetings  

Good news for Albertville cable customers: The city council doesn’t want your bill to rise.

The council opted not to add a charge for televising council meetings. The council also authorized a city hall terrazzo floor restoration project, and heard an update concerning the STMA Soccer Association’s first month of leasing the former city hall building.



City attorney Mike Couri updated the council about televising council meetings.

Couri checked with another attorney regarding $10,000 that Charter Communications owes the city for televising meetings, pursuant to its franchise agreement.

“As you recall, Charter’s position is that they will pay us the money, but will recover that amount from Albertville’s residents by putting a special charge on residents’ bills,” Couri said in his memo.

He said the attorney confirmed that cable TV rates have been deregulated, which allows Charter to raise its rates for Albertville residents if it wants to, and that federal court decisions have found that a company like Charter has a First Amendment free speech right to print what it wants to on its billings, provided the statements on the billings are not misleading.

“In short, Charter can raise its rates to Albertville residents by putting a separate charge on the bill and label it ‘City of Albertville franchise fee’ and there is essentially nothing we can do about it,” Couri said.

The council could approach Charter and propose that the city would accept less than $10,000 if Charter agrees not to tack it onto the customers’ bills.

Mayor Jillian Hendrickson and councilors Dan Wagner, Larry Sorensen and Rob Olson (councilor John Vetsch was absent) agreed they do not want to add a charge onto the customers’ bills.

City clerk Kim Olson said even if the city got the $10,000, there would be additional costs to synchronize audio/video equipment for televising. Ultimately the council agreed that staff would look into other cost-effective alternatives.



In other matters, the council approved a quote from a restoration company in the amount of $9,518 to restore the terrazzo floor at the main level of city hall.

“There has been no maintenance on the floor since city hall was built,” city clerk Olson said in her memo. She said the restoration company suggested a one-time restoration of the floor that includes removing the existing coating, diamond grinding/buffing to remove scratches, polishing and buffing, and applying anti-slip coating to the floor.

Follow-up care for the floor would include burnishing every 12 to 16 months for a small fee.

Funding will come partly from the 2013 budgeted amount of capital replacement for city hall in the amount of $4,000 and the remaining $5,518 would come from either the general fund balance or capital reserves.



In further news, Roger Derham from the STMA Soccer Association came in with an update about the club’s first month using the former city hall building at 5964 Main Ave. (just north of the post office).

The association and city reached an agreement to lease the facility for indoor soccer use. Derham said that in the first month, the association had 150 practice sessions, providing 1,720 players (430 per week) opportunities for to experience soccer practice indoors.

Further, the council was ok with the association putting up a sign outside to advertise the location.