Maine Town asks voters to accept $ 4.5 million fiber optic network
(TNS) – Hampden city councilors voted 4 to 3 to borrow $ 4.5 million to build a community fiber optic network that would reach every home and business in the Bangor dormitory community.
Residents will decide in the November election whether or not to approve the loan, but even if it passes, construction would not begin until spring 2022. Fiber optic cables would be attached to utility poles.
It would be paid by subscribers, so property taxes would not increase, according to Amy Ryder, the city’s director of economic development.
At least 938 households are expected to connect to the grid to repay the $ 4.5 20-year bond issue, Ryder said.
During the public hearing, Ryder said more than 600 residents and businesses have expressed interest in subscribing to the network.
Councilors Shelby Wright, Eric Jarvi, Christine Cubberley and Ivan McPike voted in favor of the proposal.
Jarvi said he supports the proposal, in part, because even if voters approve the plan, the board is expected to approve the issuance of the bonds later in the year.
Mark Cormier, Allen Esposito and Peter Erickson voted against but did not explain why.
The city would own the network but the service would be provided by Machias-based Axiom Technologies LLC, she said. The fees would range from around $ 60 per month for a speed of 50 megabits per second to almost $ 200 per month for a speed of one gigabit per second.
Upload and download speeds (the time it takes to receive and send information) would be the same if the plan was approved.
Currently, approximately 335 homes in Hampden are considered underserved by Internet service and only have DSL dial-up service. These residents can only access Internet speeds below the state standard of at least 50 megabits to receive information and 10 megabits to send information.
While federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act can be used to upgrade broadband networks, Hampden will receive $ 738,000, which is nowhere near enough to pay for the proposed fiber optic network.
If approved, the city will create a fund to help people with limited incomes pay for subscription fees, Ryder said.
In other matters, councilors by a 5-2 vote appointed Jillian Sarnacki-Wood to serve Kimberley Moran’s unexpired tenure on the RSU 22 board.
The board decided to quickly replace Moran, who resigned from the RSU 22 board on Aug. 7 as she applied for a job under the District’s Gifted and Talented Program. Board regulations required that she resign if she sought a position in the district. She was elected to the Regional School Board of Unit 22 in November. His term expires in November 2022.
Three other people, Debra Plowman, Shelley Sargent and Brian Moussally have applied to replace Moran as Hampden’s representative on the board. Plowman, a Republican, served in the Maine State Senate from 2004 to 2012.
Councilors approved Sarnacki-Wood’s nomination in the second round after no candidate obtained a majority in the first round. Esposito and Cormier changed their votes and supported his nomination in a subsequent motion.
The RSU 22 board of directors, made up of representatives from Hampen, Winterport, Newburgh and Frankfort, will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday after incorrectly tabulating member votes last week on a policy making masks optional for students. This measure would have almost failed if the votes had been correctly counted.
Sarnacki-Wood will participate in this emergency meeting.
Plowman and Sargent supported the possibility of making masks optional for students while Sarnacki-Wood and Moussally said masks should be mandatory.
Jarvi urged the other three candidates to run for one of three seats running for election to the RSU 22 board in November.
© 2021 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.