China selectmen held a special meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 5, for one purpose: the China Broadband Committee (CBC) asked them to meet to approve distribution of a revised informational flyer on the proposed new internet system for the town.
Selectmen unanimously approved distribution of the flyer. CBC Chairman Robert O’Connor will have it printed at Saturn Business Systems, in Waterville; town office staff will mail it to every China address, with printing and postage costs to come from the CBC budget.
Before the vote, resident Joann Austin suggested selectmen should be supportive of committees they appoint if they want people to volunteer, and shared information from Consumer Reports on benefits of municipally-owned utilities, including broadband. After the vote, Selectboard Chairman Ronald Breton thanked CBC members for doing “a great job” providing information for voters.
On Nov. 2, China voters will decide whether to authorize, but not require, selectmen to borrow up to $5.8 million to help pay for new broadband infrastructure throughout town.
To publicize and explain the ballot question, CBC members have held a series of lightly-attended informational meetings and have created a website, chinabroadband.net. The informational flyer will supplement these efforts.
CBC members met for an hour Sept. 30 to put the flyer into final form, discussing grammar and graphics more than content. The content they were satisfied with, believing it will be helpful as voters try to understand the significance of their Nov. 2 decision.
Selectmen denied permission to use town funds to mail out an earlier draft of the flyer, because they saw it as one-sidedly in favor of the broadband project. The revised version has more details, including information on finances and on other issues raised in public discussions.
It also has a new section titled “Risk Factors, including Taxation.” The section points out uncertainties in predicting how smoothly construction work would go and how many residents would sign up for the new service. CBC members expect the new service, if approved by voters and authorized by selectmen, will be self-supporting and need no tax money, but they cannot guarantee that result.
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