While not certain that he always understands his own telephone bill, David Corliss, the city's director of legal services, figures that the ``municipal charge'' mentioned in the question refers to the franchise fee.
``This fee is paid by all investor-owned utilities using the public right-of-way and easements, in lieu of separate leases of these public property interests,'' Corliss said.
``The city franchise agreement, which is also an adopted ordinance, with Southwestern Bell allows the telephone company to place cables and wires in the public's 250 miles of streets and numerous public easements. The agreement also sets out the rules for such use, and in exchange for this use -- and in place of separately purchased easements -- requires Southwestern Bell to pay to the city a franchise fee of 2 percent of the gross receipts from telephone service in the city.
``The company passes the fee on to its customers as a cost of service,'' Corliss said.