Facing the possibility of a lawsuit, Comcast agreed to pay the city of Brookhaven the nearly $1 million the city is owed in franchise fees in two payments within the next 75 days after first agreeing to do so last year.
The agreement, approved at the Feb. 9 council meeting, states Comcast will pay off the $981,976.05 owed with a first payment of $545,542.25 to be made within 30 days and the remaining $436,433.80 within 75 days.
The 1 percent interest per month the City Council tacked onto the $981,976.05 owed at its Jan. 26 meeting will now only be assessed only the $436,433.80 until the check clears, according to the agreement. If the second payment is not made within 75 days, the 1 percent interest rate will be assessed to the full amount.
“I’m glad we could get the Comcast issue resolved,” said Mayor John Ernst. “I believe we have come up with a framework to expedite that without litigation.”
“Level heads prevailed,” said Councilman Bates Mattison, who reached out to Comcast’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs Andy Macke to help bring about a resolution.
Macke said when Brookhaven became a city, questions over how much Comcast owed the city and how much it owed DeKalb County were raised.
“We are pleased to have worked with the mayor, council and staff on a solution,” Macke said. “We do need to reach a similar understanding with DeKalb County to ensure franchise fees are paid to the proper jurisdiction and our customers in the city of Brookhaven do not overpay government required fees.”
In April 2015, Comcast agreed to pay the back franchise fees dating from January 2013 through March 2015. Comcast is currently paying the city franchises fees on a quarterly basis.
Franchise fees are paid to local governments by private cable TV companies such as Comcast for use of the public right-of-way for cable. Private cable TV companies typically charge customers franchise fees and are to take that money and pay it to the cities.