Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Providers show interest in broadband initiative
By Bethany Bashioum
Telecom providers are showing interest in partnering with the Cass County Broadband initiative.
During a broadband project report during the Cass County Commissioners meeting Feb. 14, Broadband Director Melissa Freeman said interested providers attended an informational meeting regarding the county’s solicitation for interest on the project.
“It was very encouraging. A lot of providers, six in total, showed up and expressed an interest in being service providers of voice, video and data services over our broadband network,” Freeman told the Commissioners. “Cass County will own the infrastructure, which is the fiber optic network to the home and also the central office and all the equipment therein, but we need providers who want to lease this asset from us to make our cash flow analysis work.”
Freeman said this week that three providers submitted solicitations of interests to the county by the Feb. 18 deadline.
“These providers will respond to Cass County a preliminary reflection of how they would see that partnership from their business standpoint and then also gives some ideas of base revenue they would consider paying Cass County to lease a fiber network of this size and scope,” Freeman said.
The county is also still waiting to hear whether or not the United States of Agriculture will unfreeze their broadband funding, Freeman said.
In early February, the county requested 60 days to finish the 2011 single audit for the USDA to release $326,000 to reimburse recent engineering costs.
Freeman said the county has not received an affirmative or negative response back.
“I have pressed for an update and I haven’t been given an definitive word from Washington,” Freeman said during the Feb. 14 meeting. “Our field representative thought some communication would be hopeful since we are kind of out there in limbo having missed our 2011 single audit deadline and also not being able to provide it by the end of the year as previously stated to the USDA from the outside auditing firm.”
The USDA froze the account because the county is long overdue in turning in the audit, which is in the process of being completed.
In her report, Freeman added that the county has since received 21 requests for qualifications and have been reviewed for bonding capacity. With the exception of one firm that did not share its bonding capacity, Freeman said the received RFQs were sorted into groups into who could bond all of the project phases, and those who could only do one or two phases. Five firms did not have the bonding capacity to complete at least one phase of construction.
Freeman said the selection now comes down to recommendations based on project experience.
The Commission will look to approve an RFQ proposal during their Thursday, Feb. 21 meeting.
The Commission also took the following action:
Approved a request to modify Section 500.020 Table 1-A-2 Fee Schedule to include residential solar panels and wind generation. Codes, Zoning and Environmental Director Traey Lambertz said the county previously figured the cost of the permits based off their valuation. This modification decreases the cost of the required permits and makes permit a flat fee of $500. Lambertz said that the county has seen valuations as high as $100,000 for complex systems, which would result in a permit fee of $2,305. The average valuation is $16,000, which would be a permit fee of $770. He said the decrease is with the assumption that there would be a minimum required inspections since these systems are designed and engineered for each specific site.
Approved a resolution for a professional services agreement renewal with Molendorp Appraisals for the Assessor’s Office with Bob Huston.
Approved a resolution between the Mid-America Regional Council and the Cass County Emergency Services Board for a Harrisonville quarry site lease agreement.