Craig City Council debates broadband proposal, approves letter of support | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig City Council debates broadband proposal, approves letter of support

CRAIG — During a meeting Tuesday, July 24, the Craig City Council debated the Broadband Initiative before voting to approve a letter of support for the project.

Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry told council members that Mammoth Networks is completing the blueprint and documentation outlining the financial model. The project will cost an estimated $4.1 million to build.

In the letter of support, the city agreed to own the network, manage contracted operations and assume responsibility for maintenance of the infrastructure. The city will pay $1,000 per month for downtown commercial space and $5,280 per year in utility costs to upgrade systems needed for the equipment. The city has also contributed $25,000 over three years to fund administrative tasks associated with the broadband project.

Despite council’s support for the project, City Council member Tony Bohrer said he isn’t entirely convinced, adding he doesn’t think the project will be a “fix-all, save-all type of deal.” He said he is also dubious of the idea that the system online will bring opportunities to Craig “like crazy.”

Mayor John Ponikvar disagreed, saying not having broadband internet access is akin to not having electricity. While he acknowledged broadband won’t be a “fix-all, save-all” prospect, Ponikvar stressed that broadband access is essential if Moffat County is to compete with the rest of the world. Bohrer countered, saying Ponikvar’s analogy is an apples to oranges comparison.

“It is an infrastructure need,” Ponikvar said. “If we don’t have it for the community, then your community will die. It is the way of the world. It’s evolving and moving on. You may not use it, but the rest of the world does.”

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The mayor added that, with the continued change and growth in technology, businesses, schools and hospitals need faster connection speeds to thrive and succeed.

Perry said the project has broad local support, noting that many neighboring counties already enjoy the faster speeds and more reliable connections afforded by broadband. The county is falling behind, she said.

City Council Member Chris Nichols said the city needs to do a better job of communicating with the community and work to better explain the project. Residents have told him they already have broadband and want to know what is different about the project.

In other business, City Council:

• Approved a renewal of Pizza Hut’s liquor license.

• Tabled discussion with the The Adams Group about the 2017 city audit due to an emergency.

• Amended an ordinance on on sales tax collection and internet sales.

• Approved an ordinance that will allow the city to adopt any temporary or emergency county fire restrictions in the City of Craig.

• Approved a request for preliminary design engineering services from SGM, not to exceed $65,133.