The Decorah City Council has approved paying attorney fees for assistance with two separate municipal utilities being explored for the city.
At is meeting last week, the Council approved paying Ahlers & Cooney Attorneys of Des Moines an amount not to exceed $15,000 for work on a proposed municipal electric utility (MEU) and telecommunications utility. That amount could be amended as utility issues progress, according to City Manager Chad Bird.
City staff members have already consulted with the special legal counsel on the possible municipalization of the city’s electric utility and for guidance on operations of a telecommunications utility, Bird said. For further consultation, city officials needed Council authorization for attorney fees, he said.
Bird said special counsel could be needed for a possible referendum, franchise agreements, issues involving strategy with potential ligation, future feasibility and financial analysis, creation of a utility board and utility regulations.
The citizens group proposing a MEU for the city, Decorah Power, and the city’s current electrical provider, Alliant Energy, both recently presented feasibility studies on the cost of establishing a MEU in Decorah. Decorah Power’s study estimated it would cost about $7.6 million to acquire Alliant’s infrastructure and start up a MEU, while Alliant’s study estimated it would cost about $51 million. No city funds were used for the Decorah Power feasibility study. The group raised the money to cover its cost. Alliant paid for its own feasibility study.

Telecommunications
In 2015, Decorah residents approved an ordinance that authorized the city to establish a municipally owned cable communications utility and to move forward with a feasibility study of such a utility.
The issue was put on the ballot following an initiative by Decorah Fast Fiber, a citizens group that is advocating for municipally owned utility for Internet, television and telephone services. The ordinance approved by voters in 2015 also provided for the formation of the five-member Decorah Telecommunications Utility Board, which recommended Uptown Services of Boulder. Colo., be hired for the telecommunication feasibility study.
Last fall, David Stockton owner of Uptown Services, said his firm would not recommend the city pursue a municipal telecommunications utility. However, the Decorah Telecommunications Utility Board is continuing to explore the idea.
The Decorah City Council has approved paying attorney fees for assistance with two separate municipal utilities being explored for the city.
At is meeting last week, the Council approved paying Ahlers & Cooney Attorneys of Des Moines an amount not to exceed $15,000 for work on a proposed municipal electric utility (MEU) and telecommunications utility. That amount could be amended as utility issues progress, according to City Manager Chad Bird.
City staff members have already consulted with the special legal counsel on the possible municipalization of the city’s electric utility and for guidance on operations of a telecommunications utility, Bird said. For further consultation, city officials needed Council authorization for attorney fees, he said.
Bird said special counsel could be needed for a possible referendum, franchise agreements, issues involving strategy with potential ligation, future feasibility and financial analysis, creation of a utility board and utility regulations.
The citizens group proposing a MEU for the city, Decorah Power, and the city’s current electrical provider, Alliant Energy, both recently presented feasibility studies on the cost of establishing a MEU in Decorah. Decorah Power’s study estimated it would cost about $7.6 million to acquire Alliant’s infrastructure and start up a MEU, while Alliant’s study estimated it would cost about $51 million. No city funds were used for the Decorah Power feasibility study. The group raised the money to cover its cost. Alliant paid for its own feasibility study.

Telecommunications
In 2015, Decorah residents approved an ordinance that authorized the city to establish a municipally owned cable communications utility and to move forward with a feasibility study of such a utility.
The issue was put on the ballot following an initiative by Decorah Fast Fiber, a citizens group that is advocating for municipally owned utility for Internet, television and telephone services. The ordinance approved by voters in 2015 also provided for the formation of the five-member Decorah Telecommunications Utility Board, which recommended Uptown Services of Boulder. Colo., be hired for the telecommunication feasibility study.
Last fall, David Stockton owner of Uptown Services, said his firm would not recommend the city pursue a municipal telecommunications utility. However, the Decorah Telecommunications Utility Board is continuing to explore the idea.