Fee increase could aid road maintenance in Blackfoot

BLACKFOOT — Blackfoot officials have come up with a way to better keep up with street maintenance, but they will need the public’s approval to move forward with their plan.

Mayor Paul Loomis said the city wants to increase the franchise fee residents pay each month. The fee collected by Idaho Power is passed on to the city’s street department to help with infrastructure maintenance.

“It’s a fee collected to compensate for all the trucks and digging equipment … and line equipment (Idaho Power) runs on our streets,” Loomis said.

The fee is currently 1 percent, but the city could increase it to 3 percent. That would mean residents would pay just a few more dollars a month, but collectively, they would generate tens of thousands of dollars more a year for street maintenance projects such as chip sealing. Regular maintenance can significantly increase the life of roads and save the city a lot of money in the long run, Loomis said.

Still, the city will have to ask voters to approve the increase before it can move forward. Citizens will be able to make that decision during the general election in November, Loomis said.