[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of New Castle 5-24-1994 by L.L. No. 10-1994. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The town shall follow the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rate regulations in its regulation of the basic service rates and charges of Continental Cablevision and/or any other franchisee hereafter operating in the town notwithstanding any different or inconsistent provisions in any cable franchise.
A franchisee that is notified that its basic service and equipment rates are subject to rate regulation shall file, within 30 days of notification (but not earlier than November 15, 1993), a submission (hereinafter the "rate filing") as required by FCC rate regulations. The franchisee's rates affected by such notice shall not be subject to increase except with the prior approval of the town or as provided by FCC rate regulations.
Every rate filing shall be submitted to the Town Clerk, 200 South Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua, New York 10514. Four copies of the filing are required to be submitted. If the operator claims any part of the filing is proprietary, it shall file four additional copies, which shall omit the proprietary information.
If external costs are included in the rate filing and/or if different rates for classes of customers are proposed, the rate filing is required to show how the rates are consistent with FCC rate regulations. A franchisee shall respond to requests for information from the town by deadlines established by the town.
If the town finds that the initial rates and/or any subsequent rate increases are within the FCC rate regulation standards, the rates shall be effective 30 days after submission of the rate filing.
If the town is unable to determine whether the rate at issue is within the FCC's benchmark standards, based on the material submitted by the franchisee, or if the franchisee submitted a cost of service showing, the town may take an additional period of time to make a final determination and toll the effective date of the proposed rates for a commensurate period. The town may take an additional 90 days if it needs more time to ensure that a rate is within the FCC's benchmark rate standards. The town may take an additional 150 days to evaluate a cost-of-service showing. The town shall issue a written decision regarding its invocation of the additional time period and shall so notify the franchisee. If no action is taken within the above-referenced time periods, the proposed rates shall go into effect, subject to subsequent refund orders, if the town later issues a decision disapproving any portion of the proposed rates.
The Town Board shall issue a written decision on its findings in compliance with the FCC rate regulations. If rates are in excess of the FCC rate regulations, the rates may be reduced by the town pursuant to applicable FCC rate regulations.
After the initial rate regulation procedures are followed, any franchisee shall, in conjunction with each change in basic service rates and charges, conform to FCC rate regulations.
Every rate approved or prescribed shall be subject to further reduction and refund, as allowed by FCC rate regulations.
A franchisee shall be subject to all applicable penalties and forfeitures under the town's franchise and FCC rate regulations.
A franchisee is required to serve the town with all filings made by the franchisee to the FCC related to the regulation of basic service rates and charges in the town.
In connection with such regulation and except where nondisclosure of information is authorized and necessary, the town shall provide for public inspection of the rate filing and ensure a reasonable opportunity for consideration of the views of interested parties, including but not limited to the following.
After receiving a rate filing, the Town Clerk or his/her designee shall promptly publish a public notice that a filing has been received and that, except for those parts which may be withheld as proprietary pursuant to federal and/or state law, it is available for public inspection. The notice shall state that interested parties may comment on the filing and shall provide for any and all interested parties to submit written comments on the filing to the Town Clerk or his/her designee during the comment period. The comment period shall be 10 days and shall commence on the date the notice is provided. The franchisee may submit responses to comments by interested parties during the comment period and for five days thereafter.
If the town extends the period for its review by 90 days for a benchmark showing or 150 days for a cost-of-service showing or for a longer period as allowed by FCC rate regulations, the period for comment by interested parties shall be extended for a twenty-day period commencing on the day the written decision extending the time period is issued. The franchisee may respond to comments by interested parties during such comment period and for five days thereafter.
If the town prepares a public document analyzing the rate filing, such document shall be made available to the franchisee. The franchisee shall have three days, or such longer period as specified by the town, to file a response with the town. Prior to prescribing a rate or a refund, the town shall provide the franchisee with an opportunity to comment on the proposed rate or refund.
Notice of the public comment period for interested parties shall be provided in accordance with local law.
The Town Supervisor or his/her designee is authorized on behalf of the town to execute and file with the FCC such submissions as are now or may hereafter be required by FCC rate regulations in order to regulate basic service rates and charges and to establish any additional procedures for the town and the franchisee in conformity with FCC rate regulations. The town may utilize a rate consultant to advise it on proposed rate changes and to assist it in the procedures and the standards for review adopted by the FCC. A rate consultant may be any person who has sufficient background and experience, in the sole opinion of the town, to properly evaluate and analyze rates and charges.
If these provisions or any request for information requires the production of proprietary information, the franchisee is required to produce the information. However, a franchisee may request that specific, identified portions of its response be treated as confidential and withheld from public disclosure. The franchisee must state the reasons why the information should be treated as proprietary and the facts that support those reasons. The request for confidentiality will be granted if the town determines that nondisclosure is consistent with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, FCC rate regulations and the New York State law, where applicable. If the franchisee requests confidentiality and request is denied, where the franchisee is proposing a rate increase, it may withdraw the proposal, in which case the allegedly proprietary information will be returned to it; or the franchisee may seek review within five working days of the denial in any appropriate forum. Release of the information will be stayed until such time as disclosure is required by law.
A request by any interested person or party for public disclosure and inspection of material withheld by the town as proprietary shall be governed by the aforementioned federal and state law, where applicable. The town will notify the franchisee of the disposition of any request for public disclosure of information claimed by the franchisee, and withheld by the town, as proprietary information. The requesting party or the franchisee may seek review of any decision by the town regarding proprietary information, by filing an appeal with the appropriate form, as required by law. Disclosure of the information in question will be stayed pending resolution of any appeal.