City approves NCT deal

High-speed Internet services could be available next month

Three years after local government entities were promised high-speed telecommunication services prepaid through state Beanpole grant funds, officials have something tangible to show those services are coming.

The Craig City Council signed a contract Tuesday night with NC Telecom for telecommunication services.

The contract is for the use of one T1 line and seven DSL 640K lines at various city offices. It covers up to $19,000 in one-time installation charges and $18,000 for the use of those lines. The cost for those lines would normally be approximately $500 a month, but will be paid for using grant funds for three years.

Beyond that, the city can either continue paying for the service or the cost could be covered using the $700,000 Moffat County has set aside for prepaid telecommunications.

"What the county has to decide is what part of the money they have set aside for additional service procurement plays," said City Manager Jim Ferree. "They have $700,000 that we may be able to access for additional charges beyond the three-year term."

The package includes Internet service, e-mail accounts and Web hosting, according to Ferree.

Rick Heming, operations manager for NC Telecom, said the company would begin installing equipment using Qwest lines that already are in existence 10 to 14 days after the contract is signed and service would be available shortly after that. The contract calls for services to be available "on or about April 25."

City Hall, the parks and recreation shop, pool complex, road and bridge department, refuse department, wastewater plant and water plant will each be served using those grant funds.

The Craig City Council spent nearly an hour Tuesday night negotiating a contract they discovered was non-negotiable.

"It's a standard contract," said Mike Lawson, an information technologies specialist contracted by the city. "We can get out of it any time we desire."

The contract was negotiated by the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council and the Beanpole steering committee. Negotiating isn't an option, he said.

"I think this is a very one-sided contract. If we make any mistakes at all, we pay but if you make mistakes, you'll just try to do better next time," Councilor Tom Gilchrist said. "Remember, we're negotiating a contract. There's no negotiating going on here."

Heming said he attended Tuesday night only to provide information and answer questions and that he didn't have the authority to negotiate the contract.

"(The Yampa Valley Economic Development Council) have determined they won't accept any changes to the contract," he said. "If the contract isn't to an entity's liking, they can opt out."

Councilor Bill Johnston said he felt like the council had been wasting its time because of that.

"Bottom line is we either take it or leave it," Mayor Dave DeRose said. "It's in the Beanpole fund, so we might as well take it."

Councilor Bill Johnston asked whether the city could charge NC Telecom a franchise fee like it does with cable television.

"If they're going to charge us money, by God we ought to charge them a fee," he said.

City Attorney Sherman Romney assured the council there was no way "to squeeze these guys for franchise fees."

"If we don't we'll turn it over to (Road and Bridge Department Supervisor) Randy (Call) and he'll start his own cable company," Mayor Dave DeRose said.

Either party can terminate the contract at any time and for any reason without penalties.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council:

  • Renewed a hotel and restaurant liquor license for the Golden Cavvy.
  • Set a public hearing for May 27 to consider issuing a conditional use permit to either relocate an existing residence or construct a new residence at 344 Stout Street.
  • Proclaimed May 26 as Poppy Day.
  • Issued a conditional use permit for an addition at 528 W. Victory Way.
  • Delayed hearing from resident Jack Timmer about tap fees for an accessory building because Timmer wasn't in attendance.
  • Tabled a resolution to change the fees charged by the Craig Police Department for search, retrieval and copies maintained by the department. The resolution was tabled because Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta was unavailable for questions.
  • Tabled an ordinance to modify the city charter to amend sections pertaining to limitations on firearms in the city pursuant to Senate Bill 03-025. The ordinance was tabled because Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta was unavailable for questions.
  • Discuss council member appointments to departments and boards.
  • Heard the finance report for March.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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