Hotchkiss asked for money for broadband

By Tamie Meck

At a work session on Sept. 29 Hotchkiss trustees were informed that the town is being asked to commit money toward building middle-mile broadband infrastructure. The Delta-Montrose Electric Association, which is partnering with Region 10 on a grant to build that infrastructure, originally asked the town for a letter of support. DMEA has not made a final decision to be an Internet service provider.

This represents "a big jump" in DMEA's position from its original request of a letter of support, said trustee Tom Wills.

Initial estimates put the town's share at $171,000, but that would likely go down, said trustee Dustyn Foster, who represented Hotchkiss at an informational meeting hosted by Delta County on Sept. 24 and attended by municipality representatives and partners in the project.

The money would allow fiber to be connected to carrier-neutral locations (CNL) designated by the town, which must commit to those anchor locations by Oct. 9.

The estimated cost to the town to install fiber is $11 per foot for cable plus $5,500 equipment cost for each anchor point, which is estimated to cost $27,000 for two CNLs. The project is expected to take up to two years, and the town must commit those costs for the 2016 and 2017 budgets, said Foster; the final draft of the 2016 budget is due to the state on Dec. 15.

Per an email from Delta County administrator Robbie LeValley, the Board of County Commissioners is committing to $293,151 for build-out to municipalities, including $54,090 for Hotchkiss.

Trustees expressed concern at an Oct. 1 public work session that there are too many unknowns and question if this is a wise use of taxpayer money. Voters must first pass a ballot measure to opt out of State Senate Bill 05-152, which will be on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election.

Mayor Wendell Koontz suggested the issue be placed on the agenda for the Oct. 8 council meeting.