China Broadband Committee members spent their Sept. 9 meeting discussing plans to publicize and explain the Nov. 2 ballot question asking voters to authorize borrowing to support expanded and improved internet service.
The question is long and complicated (see The Town Line, Sept. 9, p. 3). Committee members hope for lopsided approval from local voters, to encourage selectmen to go ahead with the requested bond issue.
The ballot question says specifically that if too few customers sign up to make the new service self-supporting after the first two or three years, selectmen are not obligated to apply for the loan.
The question does not say the town will run the internet service, a point CBC members believe should be emphasized. If voters approve and selectmen proceed, the town will contract with Machias-based Axiom Technologies, and Axiom will be responsible for enrolling customers, overseeing construction of the system, collecting payments, doing repairs and all other aspects of operations and maintenance.
A committee member compared the broadband plan with the way China officials had roads plowed, before the town had its own public works department: they signed contracts with area plowing services, whose operators provided trucks and drivers and were responsible for getting roads clear.
Smaller Maine towns provide most services the same way, other committee members have pointed out. Selectmen and town office staff are not expected to teach in the schools, repave roads, collect trash or do other services they delegate.
CBC members reviewed a draft two-sided flyer explaining how the planned system would work and its benefits to townspeople. Committee member, former selectman and retiring Regional School Unit #18 board member Neil Farrington stressed the latter point. Fast, reliable and widely available broadband will benefit all residents, especially students, business owners and older residents getting medical attention without leaving home, he argued.
More information is available on the CBC website, chinabroadband.net.
Committee members scheduled a public informational presentation for 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 26, at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, in China Village.
They discussed preparing roadside and yard signs; doing mailings to China voters; taking out ads in The Town Line and getting articles into other area papers; and organizing door-to-door informational visits.
The next CBC meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16.