City of Sweeny, Texas

CITY CHARTER

 

ARTICLE IX.  FRANCHISES AND PUBLIC UTILITIES

Sec. 9.01. Inalienability of Control of Public Property.

The right of control and use of the public streets, highways, sidewalks, alleys, parks, public squares, and public places of the City is hereby declared to be inalienable by the City, except by ordinances not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter. No act or omission by the City Council or any officer of agent of the City shall be construed to grant, renew, extend, or amend, expressly or by estoppel or implication, any right, franchise, or easement affecting said public streets, highways, sidewalks, alleys, parks, public squares, public places, and other real property, except as provided in this Charter.

Sec. 9.02. Power to Grant Franchise.

The City Council shall have the power by ordinance to grant, renew, and extend all franchises of all public utilities of every character operating within the City and, with consent of the franchise holder, to amend the same. Provided, however, no franchise shall be granted for an indeterminate term, and that no franchise shall be granted for a term of more than twenty-five (25) years.

Sec. 9.03. Ordinance Granting Franchise.

Every ordinance granting, renewing, extending, or amending a public utility franchise shall be read at two regular meetings of the City Council, and shall not be finally acted upon until thirty (30) days after the first reading thereof. Within ten (10) days following the first reading of the ordinance, the full text thereof shall be published in the official newspaper of the City, and the expense of such publication shall be borne by the prospective franchise holder.

Sec. 9.04. Transfer of Franchise.

No public utility franchise shall be transferred by the holder thereof except with the approval of the City Council expressed by ordinance.

Sec. 9.05. Regulation of Franchise.

Every grant, renewal, extension, or amendment of a public utility franchise, whether provided in the ordinance or not, shall be subject to the right of the City Council:

(1) To forfeit any such franchise by ordinance at any time for failure of the holder thereof to comply with the terms of the franchise. Such power shall be exercised only after written notice to the franchise holder stating wherein the franchise holder has failed to comply with the terms of the franchise and setting a reasonable time for the correction of such failure, and shall be exercised only after hearing and after such reasonable time has expired.

(2) To impose reasonable regulations to insure safe, efficient, and continuous service to the public.

(3) To require such expansion, extension, enlargement, and improvements of plants and facilities as are necessary to provide adequate service to the public.

(4) To require every franchise holder to furnish to the City, without cost to the City, full information regarding the location, character, size, length, and terminals of all facilities of such franchise holder in, over, and under the streets, alleys, and other public property of the City; and to regulate and control the location, relocation, and removal of such facilities.

(5) To collect from every public utility operating in the City such proportion of the expense of excavating, grading, paving, repaving, constructing, reconstructing, draining, repairing, maintaining, lighting, sweeping, and sprinkling the streets, alleys, bridges, culverts, viaducts, and other public places of the City as represents the increased cost of such operation resulting from the occupancy of such public place by such public utility, and such proportion of the costs of such operations as results from the damage to or disturbance of such public places caused by such public utility; or to compel such public utility to perform, at its own expense, such operations as above listed which are made necessary by the occupancy of such public places by such utility or by damage to or disturbance of such public places caused by such public utility.

(6) To require every franchise holder to allow other public utilities to use its poles and other facilities, including bridges and viaducts, whenever in the judgment of the City Council such use shall be in the public interest, provided that in such event reasonable terms of use may be imposed and a reasonable rental shall be paid such owner of facilities for such use. Provided further, that inability of such public utilities to agree upon terms of use and rentals for such facilities shall not be an excuse for failure to comply with such requirement by the City Council.

(7)    a. To require the keeping of accounts in such form as will accurately reflect the value of the property of each franchise holder which is used and useful in rendering its service to the public and the expenses, receipts, and profits of all kinds of such franchise holder;

b. To examine and audit at any time during business hours the accounts and other records of any franchise holder; and

c. To require reports on the operations of the utility, which shall be in such form and contain such information, as the City Council shall prescribe.

Sec. 9.06. Regulation of Rates.

The City Council shall have full power after notice and hearing to regulate by ordinance the rates, charges, and fares of every public utility franchise holder operating in the City. Every franchise holder who shall request an increase in rates, charges, or fares, shall have, at the hearing of the City Council called to consider such request, the burden of establishing by clear, competent, and convincing evidence, the value of its investments properly allocable to service in the City, and the amount and character of its expenses and revenues connected with the rendering of such service. No public utility franchise holder shall institute any legal action to contest any rate, charge, or fare fixed by the City Council until such franchise holder has filed a motion for rehearing with the City Council specifically setting out each ground of its complaint against the rate, charge, or fare fixed by the City Council, and until the City Council shall have acted upon such motion. Such motion shall be deemed overruled unless acted upon by the City Council within a reasonable time, not to exceed ninety (90) days from the filing of such motion for rehearing; provided, however, the City Council may by ordinance or resolution extend such time limit for acting on said motion for rehearing from ninety (90) days to one hundred eighty (180) days.