Hartsville looks into municipal broad-band

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Hartsville City Council voted at their May 12 regular meeting to study the feasibility of installing and running a proprietary municipal fiber optic cable network.

In passing Resolution 05-15-01, council agreed to pay $28,000 to Uptown Services, LLC to study the costs and opportunities involved if the city should attempt to provide high-speed “fiber-to-premises” services to city residents.

Mayor Mel Pennington spoke about the potential benefit such a network could provide, calling it an “economic development engine” that could enhance existing businesses and entice high-tech industries to Hartsville, creating new jobs.

Pennington first floated this idea shortly after his election as mayor nearly six years ago, but council voted not to pursue the plan, even after a two-year struggle with the state legislature secured Hartsville’s right to offer privately maintained broadband services. Pennington said that recent rulings by the Federal Communications Commission have eased restrictions on local government-run “fiber-to-premises” enterprises, and he cited the success of such services in North Carolina towns analogous to Hartsville.

Projected costs for this project stood around $15 million five years back, but that initial study included an expanded area of service that included Lamar. The new study would only include as potential customers those residents and businesses within the Hartsville city limits. Council member Teresa Mack voted against this measure.

Council passed final reading on two ordinances, 4194 and 4195, approving the issuance and sale of waterworks and sewer system improvement bonds not exceeding $12 million in total.

Final reading was held for Ordinance 4197, and council approved a zoning change to allow a self-service storage facility to locate on Poole Street. Such facilities can now operate within city limits, so long as they are not located along major thoroughfares and meet city-mandated requirements.

Council also cleared first readings for Hartsville’s 2015/16 fiscal year budgets, with a general fund budget of about $9.2 million, water and sewer budget of $4 million, infrastructure fund budget of $604,300, solid waste fund budget of $1.2 million, and a hospitality fee fund budget of $903,600.

Other budgets include an accommodations tax fund of $155,050, a debt service fund of $136,665, a storm water fund of $185,000, a recreation concessions fund of $84,000, and a splash pad fund of $122,600.
Also on the agenda, council approved an expenditure of $28,000 for a new Blue Star generator to be used at the Hartsville Fire Department.

Mayor Pennington also signed two proclamations acknowledging May as Teen Pregnancy Prevention month, and Better Hearing Month.

Author: Duane Childers

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