Computel Consultants

                                            No-Risk Utility Billing Analysis

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P.O. Box 35

5 East Main Street

Earlville, NY 13332

 

(800) 724-9859

 

 

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In addition to our standard offerings with respect to the review of billing for telephone, gas and electric service, municipal governments have additional unique areas of need.  Two of those areas are street lighting and cable television franchises.

Computel, through an agreement with the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM), provides utility audit services to member municipalities at a reduced rate.  Through the NYCOM USA (Utility Savings Audit) Program, municipalities pay a one time 40% fee on recoveries secured by Computel and keep all future benefits in terms of reduced utility costs and/or increased cable franchise fees.

Street Lighting

Unlike standard electrical service, street lighting is an unmetered service.  Utility companies charge you based upon the combination of facilities installed in your municipality.  In addition to kilowatt hour charges based upon an estimate of the number of hours the lamps are lit within a given time period, specific charges apply to the number, type and size of lamps, luminaires and poles you have.  Additional charges may apply if you have underground service or convenience outlets for special holiday lighting.

In order to determine the accuracy of your bill, we perform a field inventory of your lighting system to ensure that what is on your bill is actually in service within your municipal boundaries.  Street lighting is one class of service that has many opportunities for both lower costs and greater energy efficiency.  We provide the specific information you need to take advantage of those opportunities.

Cable Television Franchise Issues

Within this area, our services can really be broken down to include issues with existing franchise agreements and issues associated with the franchise renewal process.  For existing franchises, we operate on our standard contingency fee basis and focus primarily on the payment of franchise fees.  In general terms, municipalities are paid franchise fees for the cable company's use of rights-of-way.  These fees are calculated as a percentage of the cable company's gross revenues within your municipality.  Experience has shown us that companies will sometimes try to reduce their gross revenues in ways that are not consistent with the franchise agreement and/or applicable state and federal rules and regulations.  Combine this with the fact that documentation you receive with franchise fee payments is either wholly inadequate or  nonexistent and you can clearly see the need for our service.

The cable television renewal process takes place approximately every ten years and can be conducted in either a formal or informal way.  However, if the process is driven by the agenda of the existing cable company, you can be sure that they will protect their own interests first.  Computel is available to represent your interests in negotiations for the successful renewal of your franchise agreement in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Municipal GRT

If your municipality has a local law requiring the payment of a Gross Receipts Tax on telephone and utility companies doing business within your borders, you know how hard it can be to verify that youíre receiving all the money you are due.  With a GRT audit, underpayments will be secured and companies that arenít paying will be brought into compliance, increasing future revenues.  The fee for a GRT Audit is one time payment of 40% of any recoveries - all future increased GRT payments are yours to keep.

Summary 

At Computel, we have played a leading role within New York State to address widespread billing problems associated with overcharges for street lighting service and the underpayment of cable television franchise fees.  In both instances, we have utilized the PSC complaint process to achieve broad based resolutions for our numerous municipal clients.

On occasion, we have municipal clients with specific needs that go beyond the scope of our standard contingency fee services.  If your municipality has such needs, we'd be happy to discuss how we can address them in a cost-effective way.

Contact us today to get started!