China Broadband Committee (CBC) members spent much of their July 22 meeting planning for July 29, the next step in a schedule they hope will lead to voters approving a Nov. 2 bond issue to expand and improve broadband service throughout town.
The major event Thursday, July 29, is Brownies and Broadband, a public informational meeting on committee plans accompanied by refreshments. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., in the China Middle School gymnasium.
There will indeed be brownies, gluten-free, selectman and ex officio CBC member Janet Preston promised; and high-fiber cookies from CBC Chairman Robert O’Connor.
John Dougherty, vice-president and general manager of consultant Mission Broadband, based in Bangor, is expected to bring an as-yet-unspecified dessert. Attendees who would like something other than water to drink should bring their own (non-alcoholic only).
Immediately after Brownies and Broadband, probably around 8 p.m., Thursday, CBC members have scheduled a committee meeting, open to interested residents, to finish their planned presentation at the Aug. 2 China selectmen’s meeting.
The presentation will be in two parts: a proposed article for the Nov. 2 local ballot that committee members hope selectmen will approve for forwarding to the budget committee; and an explanatory statement supporting the article.
The draft article asks voters to authorize selectmen to issue a bond to finance construction of expanded internet infrastructure. CBC members do not yet have a firm cost estimate; by July 22 they had begun to hope to have one by late August.
Costs depend partly on the condition of existing infrastructure, especially telephone poles. Through Axiom Technologies, the CBC’s recommended future internet service provider, CBC members intend to contract with Hawkeye Fiber Optics (also called Hawkeye Connections), of Poland, Maine, to survey the town.
At the July 22 meeting, Axiom President Mark Ouellette said Hawkeye crews have started their survey, although the contract remains unsigned (see The Town Line, July 22, p. 3). Since Ouellette, Dougherty and Mission Broadband Network Engineer Mark Van Loan have already developed financial models showing effects of different costs, Ouellette said once Hawkeye provides information, calculating final figures will not take long.
CBC members’ goal is to have internet subscriber fees cover bond repayments, operating and maintenance costs and Axiom’s profit, so expanded broadband will not increase taxes. They pointed out that future state and federal grant funds might help; and O’Connor suggested asking selectmen to take out a 25- or 30-year bond, instead of one for 20 years, to make annual payments smaller.
CBC members plan to attend the Aug. 2 selectmen’s meeting. They scheduled the initial August committee meeting for 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5. They hope to meet with budget committee members the week of Aug. 9 and plan to attend the Aug. 16 and Aug. 30 selectmen’s meetings.
They discussed which members will be available to answer questions at a CBC booth on the ballfields Saturday, Aug. 7, during China Community Days. CBC member Neil Farrington, in charge of the booths for local businesses and organizations, said they open at 10 a.m. and continue through the afternoon.
In addition to the July 29 Brownies and Broadband presentation, residents are invited to visit the CBC website, chinabroadband.net, for updated information and to sign up for email reports.
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