Week one in the Des Moines Franchise Case is in the books. Looks like the trial will last another couple of weeks. In the first week several city council members and officials testified but the bottom line is that this case boils down the the experts and the trees.
As discussed in my previous post, the central issue of the trial is to determine if the franchise fees charged by the city are in fact reasonably related to the City’s administrative expenses. In an effort to defend its administrative expenses, the city argues that it costs about $19.6 million per year to regulate utilities in public rights of way. Much of this allegedly comes from improper tree trimming causing more than $4 million in damage each year to trees along 800 miles of streets.
The plaintiff challenged the validity of the number of the trees and also presented expert testimony from an arborist who testified that he could not follow the city’s tree survey and found substantially less trees in the public right of way.
For more read this article from the Des Moines Register.