Shreveport residents are going to be paying higher electric bills, but not because of SWEPCO. The city council has approved a new 25-year franchise agreement with SWEPCO that raises the franchise fee paid by the utility's customers and passed on to the city from its current 2-percent level to 5-percent, as provided for in state law. Councilman Joe Shyne supported the proposal, saying that the additional revenue should be devoted to streets and drainage, as proposed by Council Vice-Chairman Sam Jenkins. Council Chairman Oliver Jenkins originally opposed the idea -- saying that the franchise fee increase was nothing more than a tax. And Councilman Michael Corbin agreed. The council, however, agreed with Sam Jenkins' original proposal and voted 4-to-3 to raise the franchise fee from 2-percent to 5-percent.
After that legislation passed, Vice-Chairman Sam Jenkins proposed companion legislation that would dedicate any additional revenue received above the current 2-percent franchise fee to a special fund for streets and drainage. Chairman Oliver Jenkins countered with a proposal to dedicate the whole 5-percent to that fund right now. However, after much discussion, the council agreed with Oliver Jenkins' counter-counter-proposal to dedicate everything above the current 2-percent to the streets and drainage fund for the remainder of this year and the whole 5-percent to that fund starting in January. But, the council also agreed that it could change that legislation at any time in the future.