Bill would shift cost from utility companies to taxpayers

A bill working its way through Tallahassee would shift the cost of moving utility lines from the companies that own those lines to the taxpayers when they have to be moved because of road work. Power lines, cable, phone, and internet wires are mostly in the public right of way. Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer pointed out that in many cases, especially next to roadways, the utility companies do not have to pay for the land where the lines are located.

"Today if there is a public purpose, the utility lines if they have to be moved, we have been able to ask the utilities to bear that cost because the utilities operate in the public right of way."

The bill making its way through the State Legislature would flip that upside down. If road work caused a utility to have to move it's lines, taxpayers would foot the bill. Mayor Kilsheimer is not happy.

"I think that's just manifestly unfair... It's only fair that when a public purpose comes about, the utilities bear that kind of as their cost of doing business."

If the taxpayers do have to pay for relocating lines, the Mayor believes taxpayers will be in for sticker shock.

"If the cities have to bear that cost, we are not going to be able to do as many projects, and we are not going to be able to do as many things on behalf of the public as we are otherwise able to do."

The city of Orlando, for example, believes they would have to cut their road programs by 25 percent because of the added cost of relocating phone, internet, cable, and power lines. This same bill was introduced last year but failed.