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Utilities sue Bernalillo County over fees

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three utilities are asking a federal court to prohibit Bernalillo County from enforcing a new ordinance that imposes fees for using roads and other public rights of way for lines.

The Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1j0t9mA ) reports that New Mexico Gas Co., Public Service Co. of New Mexico and CenturyLink contend that the county is improperly imposing franchise fees to get more revenue to pad its budget.

The suit contends the fees are illegal and trample on the state Public Regulation Commission's authority.

County Attorney Randy Autio says his office will defend the ordinance, which he calls a legal method for requiring reasonable compensation for use of rights of way.

The county approved the ordinance in January, with supporters saying the county shouldn't subsidize utility companies' use of roads.

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