What is this talk about cities not being able to turn "profits"? Absolutely incorrect. City can absolutely have a surplus, it just gets allocated into other infrastructure or put into a "reserve funds".
City usually does not pay for ROW because they own it. And depending on municipality sometimes those that place poles or lay cables in the ROW pay nothing to the city/county except for a permit review($25-35 around here). If no "private" (that are a lot of times subsidized by the government, but its fair this time?) companies are willing to provide service then who are these companies to tell a municipality they cannot provide if to their customers? Total B.S. Either stop the whining and provide the service, or shut up and let people vote and get the service everywhere in that municipalities borders if it passes.
a surplus budget is DIFFERENT than owning a company. You do NOT know how gov'ts work right? That's NON PROFIT! Non-Profits are NOT allowed to make any $$$$ off ANYTHING they do. The IRS prohibit that and if any city decided to turn a profit on a service they offered the IRS would have their ass in court so fast the city would spin. You should read up on the IRS tax codes. That is why the USPS is NO Longer part of the US Gov't and why Amtrak has such as hard time making any money. They're part of the US Gov't and are NOT allowed to turn a profit. They are only able to charge what they pay for the service and that's it.
Kind of late to reply but what the hell...
Actually if you must know I worked for local municipalities' administration for 13 years and dealt directly with budget allocation every year.
Like I said and will say again. Let me use water/wastewater fee as an example: city would make up most of their money from those services, and after collection they would be allocated to a "general fund" where every other department that does not make a "profit" would then use that money. Same would apply here.
Just because the service is profitable (like water service or sewer collection in this case) does not mean you cannot use that money to pay for something else.
With strategic reserves it does get complicated but overall you are still able to save some money if needed. But I would imagine that at present time you will be hard pressed to find any budget being able to bring in funds for keeping. Overall cities have to maintain an even or positive budget, otherwise in worst-case scenario city will fail and state or county will take over all of the assets.
Just because something is listed as "non-profit" does not mean they cannot make money anywhere. I think you get things confused.