This was a reasonable bill -- it passed legislature by overwhelming margines -- no reason for her to veto it.
Rebekah -- Obviously your only purpose with this article is to get people riled up. Congratulations on a job well done. For those who are actually interested in what is being discussed at the legislature you should know that the discussion is *not* about getting broadband to unserved rural areas -- that's a much different problem. Under current law neither cities nor counties are permitted to provide broadband in unserved rural areas of the counties. This bill is about cities like Salisbury and Wilson that are overbuilding existing providers of broadband and don't pay the same taxes and don't play by the same rules that private providers do. Do you think it's the right public policy for a city to go into competition with an entity it regulates and then use that regulatory leverage to compete (i.e., to increase right-of-way fees or deny access to the right-of-way). Do you think it's right for cities to take money from captive utility ratepayers and use that to compete against private business? Those are the sort of issues that are being discussed. In the meantime -- while the bill is being debated -- it does nothing to stop cities from entering the business if they want -- they simply have to comply with current law by submitting the question to a vote of the people before they incur debt. I seem to recall our country being founded under a similar concern.
Please go read Wilson's financial statements. They have taken $12 million from utility ratepayers that could have been used to lower utility rates and used that to prop up their system (which is now has run out of money before reaching even one-half of the citizens).
Please go read what's happening in the Towns of Mooreville and Davidson. These folks were told the system would be self-supporting. Didn't turn out that way. Davidson's probably going to have to raise to taxes to pay its obligations.
Rebekah - rather than accept what the muni consultants are selling you should do a little investigation. Look at what's going on with MI Connection, owned by Mooresville and Davidson. They borrowed $92 million to build a system that private industry was ready, willing and able to build and operate. They didn't submit this issue to a vote before incurring the debt. What's happening today? They are losing their shirt -- the Town of Davidson is facing an unanticipated and unbudgeted shortfall equal to 30% of its entire budget to plug the hole in this money-losing system. And of course this was sold to the people on the promise that it would pay for itself.
Why shouldn't the people be able to vote before cities engage in such risky, speculative activities, especially in the technology space? Do you really think that local government is well-suited to compete in this sector of the economy and do you really believe that it's in the best interests of citizens for this to occur?
You say that Greenlight in Wilson is self-supporting. Wrong. They are propping up the system by taking money from captive utility ratepayers and using that to compete. So far they've taken $12 million from utility ratepayers and plowed it into competition. Which is pretty amazing when you consider that Wilson has some of the highest utility rates in the state -- much higher than in ares served by investor-owned utilities.
Broadband is a wonderful service and everyone in the state should have it. Everyone agrees on that. Rather than cities competing in areas where there already is broadband, everyone would be better off if the government worked with industry (or whomever was willing) to bring it to those few areas that don't have it.
Thank heavens there are a few folks in Raleigh like David Hoyle with the courage to say that.
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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