I last posted about American Fork City’s proposed citywide fiber optic utility about three weeks ago. At the time I had some unresolved, long-standing concerns (though I have favored the proposal since before it went public).
Since then, I’ve read some documents, including the City’s service agreement with LightHub Fiber, an interlocal agency through which the utility may be created. (Trust me, no one will want the movie rights to that document.) And I’ve spoken at length with City Administrator David Bunker.
I have new information on a couple of points, which changes my view of one part of the question. I’m also ready to close the loop on those unresolved concerns.
Tuesday, November 5, is Election Day. Of more practical importance, for American Fork, today (Monday, November 4) is the last day to mail your mail-in ballot. (Otherwise you’ll have to deliver it tomorrow, following instructions which came with your ballot.)
This post comes a little late, to be sure, but if you haven’t voted yet or made up your mind how to vote, perhaps my thoughts will help you to solidify your thoughts — whether you agree with me or not.
The American Fork City Council continues to weigh the proposal to create a new utility to extend fiber optic connectivity to every residence and business in American Fork. I’ve spoken with members of the city council and others about it in the last couple of week, some briefly and some at greater length. Without presuming to speak in detail for any of them, I thought I might offer a more general update.
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the American Fork Chamber of Commerce hosted a meet-the-candidates event for the American Fork City Council race. As usual, of late, it was in a meeting room at American Fork Hospital. This post presents audio recordings from that event — one question at a time, to be easily digestable — and adds some notes from another event a week later, on October 9, at the American Fork Library.
It is time again in our two-year cycle for city council elections. This time we have 5 candidates, 3 of which are incumbents, running for 3 seats. There are some important issues including fiber, roads, and PARC tax oversight.
In the early weeks of 2019 the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) approached American Fork City officials with an invitation for American Fork to join UTOPIA. The City weighed the offer and declined — but that set some other things in motion.
City leaders began to assemble legal, financial, and technical experts with experience in similar projects around the United States and beyond. Essentially their question was, Is there something better we could do to position American Fork for the future?
I’ve been so busy with work that I almost forgot about last night’s hearing before the regular American Fork City Council meeting, about the possibility of bonding to build a citywide fiber optic utility. (LightHub Fiber is the name to remember.) Someone mentioned it the night before, or I’d have missed it.
I thought I should put in my two minutes’ worth, since that’s how much time each person is allotted. I was one of eight who spoke. Five were in favor of the proposed utility. Three were opposed, including a controversial Kaysville city councilman, Dave Adams, the only one who had to be reminded of the time limit.
I expected that other proponents would speak about the benefits, but I’ve said quite a bit about those already, so I decided to go in another direction. Perhaps it was an unusual direction. Kinda felt that way.
This is the third of my planned blog posts about a proposal the American Fork City Council is studying to extend fiber optic connectivity to every residence and business in American Fork as a utility. It’s not on the November ballot, but incumbent candidates will cast key votes as city council members.
The first post gave a quick overview and also mentioned my service on an ad hoc mayoral task force, which examined the proposal deeply from several angles and reported recommendations and concerns to the American Fork City Council. The second post listed several key benefits we can anticipate, if we build the system.
We all come to matters of local, state, and national government from different perspectives. While I favor the proposal and believe the City can execute well enough in this case, it’s possible for intelligent, well-meaning people (among others) to disagree.
I’ve been collecting reasons people have cited for opposing the project. Here I’ll list that collection, add a few more I haven’t heard yet but probably will, and tell you briefly what I think of each. Some are better than others.
This is the second of several planned blog posts about a proposal the American Fork City Council is considering to extend fiber optic connectivity to every residence and business in American Fork as a utility. You can find a more detailed description of the proposal itself in the previous post, where I also explain my head start in knowing about the proposal.
Before we go further, I should interrupt for an apology. I hoped to post this before I left for Lake Tahoe (hence the photo) for a week at the end of July. Now it’s not even August any more, and I’m finally posting it. Sorry about that.
This post explores the expected benefits to residents, businesses, and the City itself, if we build the fiber system. This is one important angle from which to view the proposal. Another will follow in the next post: good and bad reasons for opposing it.
American Fork, Utah, is considering establishing fiber optic service to every residence and business in the city as a public utility, as permitted by Utah Code 10-8-14. Here we’ll discuss the proposal itself, and I’ll tell you how I learned enough to write about it. (Teaser: I got a head start.) Later posts will address specific issues in more detail and attempt to answer related questions.
This proposal will not be a measure on the November ballot, though candidates may make it an issue in the 2019 municipal election. The city council will hold a preliminary vote, probably in mid-August, to put some things in place for a final city council vote in mid-November.
The August vote will not be whether to build the system or not. The November vote is the big one.
In the meantime, several public information meetings will be held — one already has been — to explain the proposal and answer questions (of which more soon).
The Fiber Proposal
Under the proposal, each residence in the city will pay a monthly fee as part of its utility bill. No additional fee will be required for basic service. The numbers in discussions I’ve attended have ranged from about $9.00 per month to about $12.00 per month for each residence. Flyers at the first public information meeting said $9.95 per month, but that’s still tentative.
Each business will also have a monthly fee, again on the City utility bill. The same flyers at the same meeting projected that at $19.95.
The current plan involves no installation or setup fee.
In my one-on-one interviews I asked members of the American Fork City Council what concerns they hear from residents. Interviews take different directions, but I also asked most of them, “If your term ended tomorrow, what have you done or accomplished of which you’re proudest?” In some cases, they disclaimed any personal credit and described […]
David, thank you for another stellar round of posts. I really appreciate and enjoy your reporting and insights. Looking forward…
I like Mike! A good man, doing good things and if it ain’t boke, don’t change the Sheriff. He has…
You're welcome! Glad it helped.
Thank you for posting the audio in easy, well-organized formats for me to catch up on and educate myself about…
You're welcome! Thanks for your kind words and for adding your own view.