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Des Moines Voters OK Fee Increase to Pay off Loan

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Voters in Des Moines have overwhelmingly approved an increase in a fee charged on their utility bills to repay $40 million the city borrowed to pay a court-ordered refund of previously over-collected franchise fees.

More than 85 percent of the nearly 10,000 votes cast Tuesday were in favor of the fee increase.

City residents had little choice. Either they had to approve the increased fee, or the city would be forced to increase property taxes to repay the money.

The repayment was required after a lawsuit was filed by Lisa Kragnes, of Des Moines, who noticed a fee on her utility bill in 2004 that she considered an illegal tax. She won the case through numerous appeals. Her attorneys were awarded more than $7 million in fees for the case.

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