GERING, Neb. — A cable television provider erroneously paid more than $413,000 in franchising fees to a Nebraska Panhandle county for nearly a decade, and the county board must now determine how to return the money so three cities owed their fees can be paid.
The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported that the mistake was discovered last year, when the City of Scottsbluff was preparing to renew its fee agreement with Allo Communications. Customer accounts were not affected by the error.
“I’m stunned by the level of incompetence,” Scotts Bluff County Attorney Dave Eubanks said at a county board meeting Monday in Gering. “Nine years and no one said a thing about not being paid.”
Allo President Brad Moline told Scotts Bluff County commissioners that his company set up Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown as one account after the company launched its local TV service in 2010. But, he said, the county should have received the fee only for customers who live in the county but not in those cities.
Moline said Tuesday that the franchise fees relate only to TV service.
County and company officials have since determined that $318,087 should have been sent to the City of Scottsbluff, $95,338 to Gering and $66 to Terrytown. The county should have received just $3,604.
Allo has been sending the appropriate amounts to the county and to each city since earlier this year.
Allo suggested that the county remit the outstanding balance in two separate payments to the company to reduce the impact on the county budget. Allo would then forward the old, unpaid fee amounts to the three cities. The board decided to delay its decision.
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