Franchise fees for Casper-based Rocky Mountain Power customers may soon increase.

During its Tuesday regular session, Casper City Council passed on first reading an ordinance to raise Rocky Mountain Power franchise fees by one percent to help defray future line extension costs. The current rate for the fee is set at four percent.

The first reading of the ordinance passed by a 7-1 margin. Councilman Paul Bertoglio was absent for Tuesday's meeting.

Mayor Kenyne Schlager says the increase will be good for Casper's growth. She also says the additional revenue generated will help ease the burden on the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance.

"There is a huge burden placed on the developers (for) line extensions, and that poses a challenge for groups like CAEDA or even the city of Casper to attract new businesses," Schlager said. "By (raising) this franchise fee, we'll be able to incentivize new companies to come to Casper."

Ward I councilman Keith Goodenough voted against the increase, saying that he doesn’t approve of what’s essentially a rate increase on every Casper-based meter.

Goodenough also says CAEDA’s parent company can foot the bill for line extensions.

"The current, existing organization, the Economic Development Joint Powers Board, has existing reserves," Goodenough said. "We should use that fund that exists there first before taxing the entire population."

If approved, most Casper-based Rocky Mountain Power residential customers would pay an additional 76 cents a month. City manager John Patterson says the rate increase should generate an additional $474,000 a year.

The ordinance must pass two additional readings before it can be approved and adopted.