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Charlemont to hold special TM tonight to vote on broadband


Staff Report
Thursday, December 06, 2018

CHARLEMONT — The town will hold a special town meeting Thursday, Dec. 6, at Hawlemont Regional School to discuss and vote on whether Charlemont can get Comcast Cable broadband for $1 million less than taxpayers would spend for a town-owned fiber optic network.

Town officials have weighed the pros and cons of each, but voters will have their say at a special town meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

A “yes” vote will mean the town has chosen the privately owned cable company to provide the town’s broadband service for at least 15 years; it means the town would pay $462,123 plus interest as its share of infrastructure costs.

A “no” vote means Charlemont declines Comcast’s offer and will go forward with the fiber optic build out approved by annual town meeting voters three years ago.

In 2015, annual town meeting voters agreed to spend up to $1.75 million to build a town-owned fiber optic broadband network.

But in March, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute asked town officials to consider a proposal by Comcast to bring high-speed internet cable to town for less money.

According to the town’s Broadband Committee, the build-out of a municipal fiber optic network that reaches 100 percent of homes would cost $1,466,972 plus interest over a 20-year period.

The cost of a Comcast cable installation to the town will be $462,123 plus interest over a 15-year period — with the money to come from “cherry sheet” reductions in annual state aid.