Baileyville Town Council Approves Broadband Utility

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

On Monday, August 28th, the Baileyville Town Council held a special meeting in the middle of the regularly scheduled town meeting. The special meeting had three items on the agenda. Two items focused on the Downeast Broadband Utility while the third item concerned the Fire Suppression System at the High School. 

The special meeting would allow the town to vote by a show of hands of those present on the topics before approving or denying the action. The council and town members heard discussion on the Downeast Broadband Utility. The first vote was on whether the town would support the efforts already taken by the town to work on establishing the broadband and allow the town or an appointed designee to work on furthering the project. This would also approve the entering into an Interlocal Agreement with Calais to establish the utility. With a vote of 13 for and 2 opposed, the action passed. 

Second came a vote on the financial obligation of the town for establishing the Downeast Broadband Utility. The total financial obligation would be in the amount of $1,500,000. There was concern around the cost of the obligation. With interest, the total amount of debt to be paid would be $2,135,000

“We haven’t nailed down the finances yet, but theoretically we can get a line of credit to build, capitalizing the interests so we don’t have to make any debt payments for the first two years,” said Julie Jordan, Director of Downeast Economic Development, the corporation organizing the project. “It will take about two years to build between the two communities. Then at the end of the two years when the utility has its feet on the ground, the revenues are coming in. You can now make the debt payments, that’s how it’s set to work.” 

 The utility would allow the residents of both Baileyville and Calais to receive a higher strength internet connection. The utility itself would not be mandatory for residents of Calais and Baileyville to use, but could in turn lend itself to lower fees depending on the individual subscriber and package. The utility would cover about 97% of Baileyville residents excluding those on Sunset Cove Road and Lamb Cove Road due to difficulty reaching those areas. With a vote of 15-0 the town supported the utility and will move forward. 

According to Jordan, as of now the two towns that will benefit from the broadband service are Calais and Baileyville. But the contract with Pioneer Broadband leaves it open so that other communities can join the utility at a later date. 

The residents present at the special meeting also heard the proposal of issuing a bond in the amount of $376,400 to be used for a sprinkler and fire suppression system at Woodland Junior/Senior High School. The state has agreed to forgive 30% of the loan up to $112,290 leaving the town to repay 70% up to $263,480 on a zero interest loan. With a 17-0 vote the article passed and a plan for installation will be started. 

With the passage of the two bond articles for the broadband utility and the school, the town indebtedness went to $11,140,928. 

Prior to the special meeting, the Baileyville Town Council met to discuss the progress on the Land Use Planning Commission around the Commercial Park. The piece of land acquired from Baring requires the Land Use Planning Commission to approve the codes to make sure they are no less protective than when the Land Use Commission oversaw it as part of Baring. Town Manager Richard Bronson plans to be in attendance in Augusta when the issue goes before the Land Use Commission. 

The council is also working toward holding a joint meeting regarding school reorganization/consolidation at a later date to discuss options. 

The next meeting will be held on September 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Baileyville Town Office.