DULUTH, MN, Nov. 8, 2016 (Local News) -Heeding concerns that a proposed franchise fee could jeopardize the future of Verso Corp.'s paper mill in West Duluth and the 260 jobs it provides, city councilors unanimously voted Monday night to roll back the fee the company could have seen tacked onto its mammoth electric bill.
As part of an effort to plug a hole in the city's budget, the council earlier had approved a significant increase in the franchise fee it charges Minnesota Power to do business in Duluth. At the recommendation of city administration, councilors bumped that fee from 1 percent to 3 percent — a cost that the utility has the authority to pass on directly to its customers.
Its largest customer in the city, Verso Corp., cried foul, noting that its annual power costs would go up $540,000 as a result, likely placing the plant at a serious competitive disadvantage.
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