County could seek bond from NC Telecom

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Moffat County says it wants more security on what it has from NC Telecom.

Consistent with an agreement between Moffat County commissioners and the Meeker company approved in late December -- which is a second formal amendment to a $1.2 million telecommunications deal signed in 1999 -- the county may seek a performance bond with a two-year life, not to exceed $500,000.

"At this point, it's still pending," said Kathleen Taylor, Moffat County attorney. "We've had some discussions, but nothing is finalized on how that would happen."

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said the issue could come before county commission next week.

Attorneys are still weighing NC Telecom's request for non-disclosure of any financial information needed to secure a bond, she said.

A bond, according to the agreement, aims to ensure the company's continued delivery of services to the Colorado State Patrol and its Craig communications center through Dec. 31, 2011. NC Telecom provided redundant high-speed Internet infrastructure to the state police in November 2001 -- seven months late.

The 1999 contract called for the work to be finished by April 1, 2001 -- worth $500,000 of the $1.2 million deal.

Bids on a bond provider would be invited by the county, Taylor said.

The agreement, however, doesn't address unspecified telecommunication services that the 1999 contract also called for availability by April 2001. The services were for use exclusively by "county offices, libraries, municipalities, hospitals and public schools within Moffat County."

Under the 1999 deal, those same entities were eligible to pay telecommunication charges out some $700,000 in prepaid services from NC Telecom -- $466,666 of which was placed in an interest-bearing escrow account held by the county.

The premium for a possible performance bond would be paid from the escrow account -- a use of funds not addressed in the 1999 deal.

"Any amount withdrawn by Moffat from that escrow account to pay the premium on the bond will reduce the amount available for prepaid services," the agreement states.

Moffat County signed its $1.2 million contract with NC Telecom in December 1999. The company incorporated in August 1999.

Why weren't such assurances secured in 1999?

"At the time we felt like we had a good contract and $700,000 of that was coming back to the county in services and that was just as good as performance bond," said Raftopoulos.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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