Palm Beach County OKs FPL fee increase
By PAUL QUINLAN, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH — The average monthly Florida Power & Light Co. bill for Palm Beach County homeowners who live outside of a city will rise $2.80 per month, under an agreement with the utility that county commissioners approved Tuesday.
Commissioner Shelley Vana cast the only vote against the hike.
The new 30-year franchise agreement ensures that the county gets to keep $11 million in annual taxes collected from FPL for construction at its West County Energy Center at 20-Mile Bend and rehabilitation of its Riviera Beach power plant.
Under a previous agreement, the franchise fees FPL pays the county would have fallen to offset the additional taxes paid on those two plants. The new agreement, approved as the county faces plunging revenues because of the real estate collapse, eliminates that provision.
FPL will pass the extra expense on to customers, county officials said.
County Administrator Bob Weisman said the change will help pay for the additional county law enforcement, fire and other services that will be provided to the new plant.
Several residents criticized the fee as a tax increase in disguise.
"You are slowly but surely taxing us to death," Patricia Curry, a resident of The Acreage, told the commission, earning cheers from members of the anti-tax Tea Party movement in the audience. "I know your ordinance says Florida Power & Light, but who the heck do you think is going to pay it?"