Chapter 2.25


2.25.010    Established.

2.25.020    Purpose.

2.25.030    Authority.

2.25.040    Membership.

2.25.050    Officers.

2.25.060    Meetings.

2.25.070    Initiating review.

2.25.080    Hearings.

2.25.090    Decisions.

2.25.100    Appeals.

2.25.110    Costs.

2.25.120    Use by other jurisdictions.

2.25.010 Established.

There is established a Whatcom County rate review board, which shall exercise the powers as spelled out in this chapter as well as any other powers which may be granted to it by the county council. (Ord. 83-72 § 1).

2.25.020 Purpose.

The purpose of the board is to review rate changes for subscribers as may be requested by cablevision services holding franchises from Whatcom County or any of the cities therein. (Ord. 83-72 § 2).

2.25.030 Authority.

The board shall have the authority to review the following rates, fees and charges:

A. Rates for the provision of basic services to residential subscribers;

B. Rates for the connection, installation and reinstatement of residential subscribers;

C. Any other rates as may be permitted under Federal Communication Commission rules. (Ord. 83-72 § 3).

2.25.040 Membership.

A. The county council shall appoint four regular members to the rate review board, each for a term of four years’ provided, that the initial board shall consist of one member appointed for a one-year term, a second member appointed for a two-year term, a third member appointed for a three-year term, and a fourth member appointed for a four-year term, in order to establish an annual rotation of one regular member. Board members shall be residents of Whatcom County at the time of their appointment, and one member thereof shall be an attorney and a second member shall be an accountant or professional financial analyst.

B. When a rate change is proposed for a service area which comprises only a portion of the total geographic area of the county, a fifth, special member who shall have full voting rights shall be appointed to the board by the county council for the purpose of representing that geographic area in reviewing the rate under consideration. This special member shall cease to be a member of the board upon the board’s rendering a final decision on the rate change proposal affecting the geographic area specified. (Ord. 83-72 § 4).

2.25.050 Officers.

The officers of the rate review board shall consist of a chairman and vice chairman, who shall perform the customary duties of their offices and serve for a one-year term. These officers shall be elected annually at the first board meeting of each calendar year and shall remain in office until their successors have been elected. (Ord. 83-72 § 5).

2.25.060 Meetings.

The board shall hold an organizational meeting in January of each year to elect officers. Other meetings will be held as necessary to conduct the business of the board. Meetings will be called by the chairman. Meetings shall be conducted in public. The board shall adopt its own procedural rules. (Ord. 83-72 § 6).

2.25.070 Initiating review.

A. If within 20 days of receipt of a notice for a proposed cablevision rate change the county council decides to institute the rate review procedure, before the 20 days shall have expired the council shall:

1. Notify the grantee in writing of its intention to institute the rate review procedure;

2. Submit the proposed rate change(s) to the rate review board.

B. The council submission shall specify the service for which the rate is proposed, the old or existing rate, the proposed new rate, the proponent’s rationale for the increase, and shall name a special member, as specified in Section 2.25.040 (B), to participate in the board’s rate review process, if applicable. (Ord. 83-72 § 7).

2.25.080 Hearings.

The rate review board shall hold at least one public hearing on any proposed rate change submitted to it. A rate review hearing shall be scheduled within 25 days of the receipt by the board of a written notification from the county council requiring a proposed rate change to be reviewed and determined. Notice of the board’s scheduled public hearing shall be published at least five days prior to the date of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation serving the area in which the rate increase is proposed. Hearings may be recessed or continued as necessary. (Ord. 83-72 § 8).

2.25.090 Decisions.

A. In the absence of criteria within a relevant franchise ordinance defining the scope and basis for review, any decision of the board granting or denying a rate increase request shall be based on the evidence and testimony submitted at public hearing as related to the following issues:

1. Costs to be incurred in the provision of additional services (including, without limitation, additional broadcast signal carriage);

2. Increased capital and operating costs (including, without limitation, increased costs due to inflation);

3. The need to provide a reasonable rate of return on the proponent’s investment; and

4. The need to promote equity in rates among the citizens of Whatcom County.

B. The burden of proof for justifying any rate increase request shall lie with the proponent thereof. The decision of the board shall contain written findings and conclusions and shall:

1. Grant the rate increase requested;

2. Grant a percentage of the increase requested; or

3. Deny the request.

C. A final decision of the board shall be rendered within 45 days of the date of receipt of notification from the county council of the rate review request, unless an extension is agreed upon by the proponent and the county council. (Ord. 83-72 § 9).

2.25.100 Appeals.

Any order of the board denying all or part of a rate request increase may be appealed by the proponent to the county council within 10 days of its issuance; otherwise, a board decision shall be final. (Ord. 83-72 § 10).

2.25.110 Costs.

The cost of publishing notice for rate review hearing shall be borne by the proponent of the request. No board members shall receive any compensation for service on the rate review board. Clerical and other necessary and reasonable expenses of the board shall be compensated by the county council. (Ord. 83-72 § 11).

2.25.120 Use by other jurisdictions.

The services of the Whatcom County rate review board may be used by other jurisdictions within the county through an intergovernmental agreement which shall include the following provision:

The fifth member, as authorized by Section 2.25.040B shall be appointed by the contracting jurisdiction utilizing the services of the Board; the contracting jurisdiction may add or delete from the criteria outlined in Section 2.25.060; the contracting jurisdiction will be responsible for the costs incurred for their review, including all back-up resources such as legal advice and representation, clerical support, etc.; appeal of a decision will be to the contracting jurisdiction. (Ord. 83-72 § 12).