The city of Killeen will join up to 32 other cities to sue Spectrum, a Charter Communications brand, for underpaid cable franchise fees mandated by state law.
The city will seek $151,486 in back fees after Spectrum allegedly underreported “several categories” of revenue, leading to it paying less than its 5 percent annual franchise fee.
In June 2017, Killeen joined 32 other cities to hire Richardson-based NewGen Strategies to analyze Spectrum’s franchise payment records for 2013-17. In its report, Newgen found Spectrum had underpaid a total of $2,252,213 among the 33 cities.
On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council agreed to retain Austin-based Lloyd Gosselink law firm for trial litigation at a cost of $25,237.50. According to the city, the cost to try the case for all 33 cities is $375,000.
City attorney Kathy Davis said the city’s legal fees could fluctuate over time if any of the 33 cities in the original study choose not to litigate or if more cities decide to join the suit, among other considerations.
Davis said a separate survey of Spectrum franchise fees in other cities was ongoing.
According to a state law signed in 2005, cable companies are required to pay cities a 5 percent franchise fee of gross revenues for use of public right of way for operations. Those revenues are required to be used by cities for improving and maintaining public, educational or govermental access channels.
In September, the city allocated $300,000 in cable franchise fee revenue for the renovation and update of the council chambers at City Hall, 101 N. College St.
The renovated chambers would update video and internet capabilities and provide accommodations for meetings, workshops and executive sessions. The redesign would also include new electrical wiring, HVAC, sound, lighting, and cosmetic improvements to include carpet, upholstery, paint and window shades.
The current council chambers were constructed in 1995, according to the city, and have had no significant improvements since construction.