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Decorah City Council approves money for a new Internet utility study

Posted: Mon, Jul 2, 2018 7:08 PM

The Decorah City Council has voted to fund a request by the city's Telecommunications Utility Board for up to $20,000 to hire a consultant to create a final business plan and to handle a pledge card campaign for a fiber-to-the-premise network.  

Members of the Telecommunications Board say the work would produce a business model suitable to take to the bond market for financing bids.  The work would include an in-depth community pledge card community survey.  Board member Paul Mattson said there were three reasons a new study might give a more favorable report than an earlier study: there might be a higher percentage of people becoming customers than predicted earlier; the utility might be run by fewer employees; and installing underground fiber would reduce predicted repair costs.

City council member Randy Schissel opposed the request, complaining that the commission "wants to move the numbers around."  He said the city would be spending $20,000 "for something that won't happen."

But city council member Johanna Bergan supported the second study, calling it "an investment we should make."  Mayor Lorraine Borowski agreed, saying, "Getting more information is important." 

The measure passed on a 6-1 vote.