Weston will fight cable increase

Article Courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel
By Joe Kollin 
Posted November 29, 2003 

WESTON · Cable bills for more than 16,000 homeowners will go up $3.78 on Jan. 1 -- unless city officials are successful in their attempt to beat back the unplanned increase.

City commissioners on Monday will consider approving cable increases, but only as a stopgap measure to protect the city's treasury while they fight Advanced Cable Communications of Danville, Ky., the cable provider for neighborhoods developed by Arvida-JMB Partners.

Every homeowner in the Arvida-developed portion, which includes most of the city, is required to pay for basic cable as a condition of home ownership. That's because as it developed Weston in the 1980s, Arvida couldn't find a cable operator willing to serve the community, so it built is own. To make it profitable, Arvida included basic service as a deed requirement.

Arvida in 1998 sold the cable operation to Advanced but retained the billing function. That eventually became the responsibility of the non-profit, city-run Town Foundation. 

The foundation contracted the job to the city of Sunrise, which already collected the city's water-sewer bills.

Mayor Eric Hersh on Friday said Advanced justified its request for the increase by saying that every cable company is raising rates. The commission probably will approve, but only to prevent a deficit in the Town Foundation's budget.

"I don't buy their reasoning for the increase," he said. "We haven't necessarily accepted it, but we don't want to get caught short." 

City representatives are negotiating with attorneys for Advanced to lower the increase, he said. The city also may try to make cable voluntary when the contract with Advanced expires in five years. 

For the year that began Oct. 1, the commission increased the rate by only 2 cents, to $36.42 a month. 

But as proposed, the rate will go up to $40.20 on Jan. 1 and another nickel, to $40.25, on July 1 for single-family homeowners, a total increase of 10.6 percent.

For the Arvida-developed Fair Lake apartment complex on Weston Road at Indian Trace, rates will go from $22.46 to $25.44, or 13.3 percent.

Figures include all taxes and fees. Sunrise keeps 90 cents of each cable bill as its collection fee.

Advanced Cable handles its own billing for premium cable services, such as HBO and Showtime.

The increases don't apply to Bonaventure, Emerald Estates, Windmill Reserve and Isles at Weston where individual contracts apply.