The board of trustees for the Town of Hotchkiss wants to make it perfectly clear that the town has no intention of entering into the business of providing broadband Internet services to the public.
Trustees voted at the October public meeting to publish an FYI bulletin regarding Ballot Question 2-C. Ballots were mailed out last week. Question 2-C states, in part, "if the Town should be allowed to provide or partner in the provision of telecommunications services ..."
The town "has no intention of going into broadband service," said mayor Wendell Koontz.
The question asks voters to consider opting the town out of Colorado Senate Bill 05-152, a statute created in 2005 to ensure that no one company or individual is favored in supplying cable television, telecommunications services and high-speed Internet access. Passage of the bill prohibited municipalities, counties and the state from going into the business of providing cable or broadband services.
While a "no" vote won't prohibit the town from working with Region 10 of the Department of Local Affairs to help leverage a $5.2 million grant to build infrastructure, a "yes" vote gives the town "the freedom and flexibility to work with whatever provider" to facilitate expansion of broadband services within the town.
The cities, and county, of Delta, Cedaredge, Crawford and Paonia also have ballot questions regarding SB 05-152, also known as Title 29, article 27, Part 1 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. No other municipalities have expressed an interest in going into the business. Delta County, which has pledged $800,000 toward construction of broadband infrastructure, also has no intention of entering into the business, noted county administrator Robbie LeValley at the meeting.
The project of linking broadband fiber to carrier-neutral locations within local municipalities is expected to begin in 2016 and take up to two years, according to Region 10 executive director Michelle Haynes.
The town will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2 to discuss the broadband issue. The meeting will also include a public workshop on the 2016 draft budget.