Des Moines finalizing $40M franchise fee refunds

DES MOINES – Attorneys are finalizing the city of Des Moines’ plan for refunding millions of dollars in fees collected on the utility bills that the courts have declared unlawful.

The city must refund a portion of the city franchise fees paid by gas and electricity customers of MidAmerican Energy to the city from September 2004 through May 2009. The courts have determined that $39.9 million in fees the city had charged during that period were an unlawful tax.

Court documents presented to Polk County Judge Joel Novak last week indicate a class action fund will be established and administrator named to oversee distribution of the money after fees and expenses for attorneys and the administrator are deducted from the judgment.

A claim form will be mailed to each customer due refunds from a database of names and addresses provide the court by MidAmerican Energy. The forms are likely to be mailed sometime in August or September. In addition, a toll-free telephone number and a website will be set up for people to file claims.