Orchard City voters will have a chance to decide whether their town government may "opt out" from the statutory prohibitions of Senate Bill 152 and thereby use public resources to support a local telecommunications "broadband" business.
An opt-out measure similar to the ones adopted by voters in five other local municipalities, and also by county voters, was approved by the town board in January. The question will appear to voters on the April 5 municipal election ballot.
The 2016 budget adopted by the Orchard City Town Board allows for spending $50,000 to install fiberoptic cable at a site atop Tank Hill. It is envisaged that if private Internet service providers (ISPs) want to transmit wireless Internet service by accessing the fiberoptic cable link atop Tank Hill, it might provide the least expensive way of upgrading Internet access throughout Orchard City. However, the Tank Hill broadband concept plan is not engraved in stone.
The broadband landscape in Delta County is evolving rapidly. For example, DMEA recently announced its plans to enter the telecommunications ISP business in a limited way with a pilot project. Region 10 continues to develop a "middle mile" broadband network for Delta and Montrose counties.
Even though the $50,000 expenditure is in Orchard City's 2016 budget, there is no requirement that the money actually be spent this year, nor on the fiberoptic configuration as presently conceived for a Tank Hill site.
It will take a "yes" by voters on April 5 for the town to participate in almost any type of broadband program using public resources. The $50,000 expenditure budgeted is for the cost of running the fiberoptic
cable from the DMEA substation on Fruitgrowers Road to Tank Hill. The county government has provided money for Region 10 to construct the cable access facility (carrier neutral location) in each of the county's municipalities.
The SB-152 opt-out measures approved by voters in other county jurisdictions remove statutory restrictions from local governments for participating in the information technology business.
Orchard City officials have stated there is no need for gigabit fiberoptic broadband cable speeds to conduct the functions of town government.
In other business at their regular Jan. 13 meeting, the Orchard City trustees dealt with the following matters.
• Deep snow cover and overbusy staff led to the need to estimate water bills for the month of December, it was reported.
• The trustees received a second visit in two months from the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce. A delegation consisting of two CACC staff members and the Cedaredge town administrator were there with an invitation to join the group.
• Trustees held a public hearing on an application by Delirious Liquors to modify its premises at the Moose Crossing in Eckert. The business intends to expand.
The trustees approved the application following the public hearing.
• Trustees made several official designations -- town hall as the official town board meeting place and official site for posting notices of public meetings; the Delta County Independent as the official newspaper for legal notices; Larry Beckner as the town attorney; Pete Blair as the town's auditor; and Melissa Oelke as the town clerk and treasurer.
• Snow plowing operations over Christmas and New Year weeks led to employee overtime. There was "an extreme amount" of extra work caused by the plowing operations, said Mayor Don Suppes. Both he and Trustees Jimmie Boyd were among the volunteer plow operators who chipped in and helped with the task.