The Casper City Council on Tuesday tentatively agreed to ask Rocky Mountain Power to retain a franchise fee that generates significant revenues for the city.

In 2017, the council signed a 20-year utility easement agreement with the Oregon-based PacifiCorp, which does business in Wyoming as Rocky Mountain Power, and in return the city would receive a 7% franchise fee from the company, according to the agenda for the Tuesday work session.

The agreement had a sunset provision that required the city to renew the 7% fee by 2021. Otherwise, the rate drops to 5%, and the city would lose $760,000 a year, which would be "impractical and unworkable from a budgetary perspective," according to a memo in the agenda from the city attorneys to City Manager Carter Napier.

To keep the current rate, the city needs to give Rocky Mountain Power a 60-day notice.

Mayor Steve Freel asked City Attorney John Henley if the rate could be increased to 8%.

Henley responded that such a request would be frowned upon by the company, and that 7% is about as much as could be reasonably expected.

Of that 7%, 1% is allocated to the economic development group Advance Casper, formerly known as the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, which is jointly funded by the city and Natrona County.

Council member Mike Huber said he would like to have a work session discussion later about what Advance Casper does with its money.

Council member Shawn Johnson wanted the franchise fee to revert to 5%, but didn't explain why.

Most council members voted to keep the rate at 7%.

To be official, it will require an ordinance and passage after three readings including public hearings.

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