Legislation Altering Frankfort Plant Board Eeks Through Senate Committee

A Senate bill drastically altering the operation of the community-based nonprofit Frankfort Plant Board barely made it out of a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 220, sponsored by Sen. Gex “Jay” Williams, R-Verona, is being pushed by Williams to start a conversation about treating the Frankfort Plant Board like “every other utility in the state.”

Several individuals spoke against the bill in committee, including Frankfort resident Christie Poe, who said she finds it hard to understand how “all of a sudden Senator Williams has taken an interest in this.”

“As a member of this community, we love the Frankfort Plant Board, we have chosen the Frankfort Plant Board, and we have the power to dissolve the Frankfort Plant Board if we so choose,” she said. “We have chosen not to do so. I don’t understand why we need to be regulated in that; why our decisions and our voices have to be silenced and given to another body of power to make those decisions for us. We are able to make decisions for ourselves.”

Frankfort Plant Board Chairman John Cubine also testified against the bill, saying they have had no governance issues to warrant the legislation, adding the bill is “not good legislation,” as the Frankfort City Commission has the authority to alter the plant board.

“Senate Bill 220 does propose that we basically begin remitting property tax, which basically just becomes a charge to customers like any other utility or any other private business,” he said. “Taxes become an operating cost. They’re above the line cost and basically would result in a $3 million increase to our ratepayers.”

The committee’s vote was nearly split, with Senators Cassie Chambers Armstrong, Jared Carpenter, Adrienne Southworth, Robin Webb, and Whitney Westerfield voting against the bill.

Senators Robby Mills, John Schickel, Phillip Wheeler, Gex Williams, Brandon Smith, and Johnnie Turner voted to support the bill; however, Turner said he would speak against it if it was called for a vote on the Senate floor.

KLC’s Board of Directors has voted to oppose the preemptive legislation.