Vinton's Municipal Electric Utilities Board called a meeting for Tuesday evening.
The board requested a written recommendation from the subcommittee, led by Kim Meyer. The committee suggested strongly that the Board give a yes vote and to move on with the project.
There was no discussion among the board following this advice.
The board also requested a letter concerning the agreements that will be made following the vote, from the providers. This cannot be provided before there is an agreement to move forward with the project. This would be in the documents contracts following the approval of the board at a later date.
The responsibility for this decision falls solely on the board.
CItizen comments were heard in support of the project as well.
The meeting lasted a little longer than 10 minutes and then was adjourned without further discussion.
The next meeting, the final vote on this project will be scheduled for February 12. Be sure to watch for details on this.
The board requested assurances from other agencies before making their decision to move forward.
The following letters were submitted to the Board in support of the project.
From Mayor Bud Maynard:
Chairman Elwick and VMEU Board members:
We are connected. Everything from banking, shopping, social media to having a home office. The possibilities are endless. Hospitals using real-time diagnosis from peers across the globe, schools hosting online education and people connecting to their workplace from the comforts of their home. Every aspect of our lives is somehow tied into and dependent on access to the internet.
The internet is no longer a luxury or passing fancy it is a necessity and having lightning fast speeds and a reliable connection is undeniably a part of that necessity. If we, as community leaders, who are tasked with shaping and setting up the community to do more than survive in the future we need to look at the way the world is heading and embrace it.
We have the ability right now to take a large step in making Vinton marketable as a community for not only its big city amenities but for the things people have come to expect when searching for a place to live or move their business.
It is because of Vintons need to do more than survive, to be able to promote itself as a 1G city
Is why I recommend that the VMEU move forward with accepting the proposal for the fiber optic and bring Vinton in line with competing cities.
I know as leaders its difficult to look far off down the road and make decisions that will affect the future generations. But that is why we are where we are and this is by far one of the easiest decisions to make for investing in Vintons future.
Melissa Schwan director of Vinton Unlimited, also submitted a letter of support for the project stating:
"As the economic development arm for the City of Vinton, I receive direct inquiries from the State of Iowa for businesses looking to locate in the region. Most businesses include fiber in their list of must-haves right along adequate water capacity and access to workforce. Simply put, Vinton will not be considered by businesses until we have better, more reliable internet service.
The Vinton Unlimited Board (comprised of Vinton business owners, employees, and community members) is thrilled that such progress has been made to bring fiber to Vinton. We understand the decisions are of great magnitude and will have lasting impacts on our community, however, we believe this is the right direction for our community. Fiber has become a necessity for residents, current business and any new business that would wish to locate to Vinton.
The Vinton Unlimited Board fully supports this project and we hope to soon celebrate by adding fiber to our list of community amenities."
The board's chairperson, Mike Elwick, requested assurances from the city. In response, they received the following letter.
Mr. Mike Elwick
214 E. Second Street
Vinton, Iowa 52349
Dear Mr. Elwick,
This is a letter requested by about a written assurance that legal bond counsel is premature at this time. There are several reasons at this time for this which are outlined by the Code of Iowa. I will go over reasons individually in this letter.
In financing a capital project such as the fiber optic project several services will need to be performed and paid for. The three that are done are financial advising, legal bond counsel, and underwriting. Each of these steps is paid for through the proceeds of funds from financing the project. Iowa Code 384.24A (5) explains how loan agreements must be done for a capital project under a municipal utility entity when funds are borrowed, Iowa Code 384.83 lays out the procedure that must be followed in order to receive funds for the project. Iowa Code 73A and Iowa Code 74A explain the bidding requirements and the interest rates that can be charged for the project. Without the project moving forward these requirements would not have to be met. This is the role of legal bond counsel to make sure that the municipal utility meets these requirements of issuance. Finally, under Iowa Code 388 and Vinton City Code 24.04 (10) I am not an employee of VMEU and therefore I am not authorized to spend funds from the utility or incur fees for requesting legal opinions on VMEUs behalf.
My recommendation is that the board would have legal bond counsel engaged after acceptance of the bids. This would provide a legal way for the utility to cover these types of cost. The amount would be known and the cost of issuance would be fixed after this point.
If you have any questions about this letter please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you.
City of Vinton