CENTERVILLE - It’s time for UTOPIA cities to see whether they want to hand operations of the struggling fiber optic network over to Macquarie.
Officials from the Australian-based company presented their Milestone One proposal this Tuesday at Centerville City Hall. The proposal outlined the utility fees and other details that would be required of cities should they take over management of the network. Though the public was invited, the meeting was not open for public comment
The next step is for the cities to decide whether to go with the plan or see if another viable option is available.
“It kind of boils down to that this is Macquarie’s first proposal,” said Centerville City Assistant Manager Blaine Lutz. “Obviously there would be a lot of details to go through, but cities have to see what the options are.”
Though the proposal itself runs 100 pages, the simplest version is that Macquarie’s involvement would build out the network to the point that everyone in the city could join it. Basic service would be a three-megabit per second upload and download speed, along with a 20 GB data cap.
“Growing the network is really the only way to hopefully get out of indebtedness,” said Lutz, referring to the debt service payments Centerville, Layton and other cities agreed to take on during the network’s earlier financing attempts.
The biggest issue is the utility fees that would result from the partnership. Since everyone would have access to the fiber optic network, all households in the city would be charged $18-20 for single family homes or small apartments, $9-10 for each unit in a larger apartment building or condos, and $36-$40 for commercial properties.
Comparatively, utility rates for garbage is $12.05 for the first can and $9.40 for each additional can. Though there has been talk about a waiver for residents who can demonstrate financial need, no decision has been made on the topic.
Centerville officials have yet to schedule a meeting to discuss their response to Macquarie’s proposal. Each UTOPIA member city will make the decision independently about whether or not to enter into the partnership, though it is uncertain what would happen if only some of the cities chose to join.
“It gets so complicated,” said Lutz. “We can’t say we just want to go on as normal. That might not even be feasible.”
If the member cities approve of the arrangement, the next step will be for the two organizations to work out the details. If they don’t, Lutz said they would have to invest the time and effort into hunting for another alternative.
“We’ve had some positive movement (as a network) but it’s going to take a lot of time and more funding to get where we need to be,” he said. “This steps in and addresses a lot of complications.”
Macquarie will also hold meetings with other member cities this week, including on with Layton on April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Layton City Offices. The meeting with West Valley officials is scheduled for May 1 at 8 p.m. at West Valley City Office, 3600 S. Constitution Boulevard. Both meetings will be open to the public but not open for public comment.