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Council agrees to outsource management of pole attachments

City of Cairo officials want to make sure they have an accurate inventory of all utilities attached to city-owned utility poles and that those utilities are paying the appropriate annual pole attachment fees.
In order to obtain an up-to-date inventory and to properly manage the pole attachment agreements, Energy Services Director Rod Prince issued a recommendation this week for the city council to contract with the Electric Cities of Georgia for its pole attachment service.
In recent years, through work by ECG, the city has been able to successfully negotiate pole attachment fees that are at market levels, according to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton.
Whereas the city was being paid $2 to $3 per pole annually by connecting utilities, the city is now being paid $16 to $20 per pole. Addleton says the city generates approximately $175,000 from pole attachment fees paid by Windstream, Mediacom and CNS.
By contracting with ECG, the city will ensure that utilities are billed in a timely manner to include any rate escalators and preparation of invoices.
In addition, ECG will notify the city if a pole cannot handle the additional load and ensure that attachments meet National Electric Safety code, plus other services.
Prince estimates the cost of the inventory would be approximately $7,000 and he recommends an inspection be conducted every five years.
The total cost of the ECG service is $18,500 annually, but Prince says taking into consideration the $175,000 collected in attachment fees, the service cost is “minimal in comparison.”
Councilman Jerry Cox on Monday night questioned why the city would outsource this service when it had previously been handled in-house. Cox also asked if by contracting with ECG would the city collect additional revenue.
The city manager said he did not anticipate any significant additional revenue, but said that ECG was better equipped and staffed to manage pole attachment fees and agreements.
“I’d like to do it for one year and see what the impact is and then we can reevaluate,” Addleton told the council Monday night.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas said the future contracting with ECG could result in additional revenue, but he did not predict an immediate impact.
Douglas said that pole attachment fees are to be billed annually and whether it was being done each and every year was debatable.
Councilman Douglas said the agreement would also address potential liability issues for the city.
Cox said he had additional questions and did not fully understand the agreement enough to make a final decision, but would defer to the city manager and majority of the council.
“I would like to see us commit to only one year and then we can readdress it. Will it come back before us or automatically renew?” Cox asked.
City Manager Addleton said the agreement would come back before the council and he, too, was only recommending a one-year commitment.
The council voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Bobby Burns to execute the agreement with ECG.

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