Jackson County Times

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

FPU Administrative Error Results in Windfall for City of Marianna

Paid Utility Fee to County for Family Dollar Electrical Bills for six years instead of paying franchise fee to City of Marianna
By Sid Riley

In the game of monopoly there is one card you can draw which says “Bank Error In Your Favor, Collect $200”…well it appears the City of Marianna has drawn that card. During the investigations relating to the city’s consideration of creating a municipal electrical utility instead of renewing the historical franchise with Florida Public Utilities, the city’s consultant discovered that FPU had been mistakenly remitting payments to the County for the utility fee which should have instead been paid to the City of Marianna as their franchise fee.

Preliminary calculations show that over the six year period which is involved, FPU has paid to the county $187,829 which should have gone to the City of Marianna. Since the validity of this error has now been verified, it appears the county is preparing to repay the funds it received.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Chuck Lockey requested that the county staff review the preliminary calculations submitted by Florida Public Utilities for accuracy, and then advise the Board at the next meeting as to the actual payment which was made in error. Attorney Frank Baker advised the board that a four year limit on liability could apply, but it appears that board is prepared to pay back all incorrect receipts over the full six years which are involved.

The city owes a debt of gratitude to their consultant, Bill Herrington, for his investigative work which led to the discovery of this administrative error.

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