Utah Infrastructure Agency Moving Forward

Remember UTOPIA’s new plan to shift the cost of the network from the cities onto subscribers? It’s been moving forward in the form of the Utah Infrastructure Agency, a way for cities to bond for construction without having to put taxpayers as a whole on the hook. So far, West Valley City, Lindon, Midvale, Layton, and Orem are on board with Perry and Tremonton deciding to sit it out. Other cities are still considering signing up for it and need to hear from you.

So what exactly does this do? In short, it’s the next evolution beyond the SAA used in Brigham City. The SAA model was to  find demand, form an SAA, and then get the funds to start construction. The UIA will, instead, get the money first, find the areas of demand, and then start construction once it becomes feasible. Just like the SAA, the subscribers that get hooked up under the arrangement will be the ones footing the bill. This speeds up the process of connecting customers while still continuing to shift the burden of supporting the network away from cities and onto those who get service.

To be quite honest, I can’t see why a city wouldn’t be all over this. There’s no cost to the cities to participate and increased subscribers will only decrease or eliminate the called pledges. Given the benefits to the taxpayer, that they are taken off the hook, you’d think the Utah “Taxpayers” Association would be all for it. (Fat chance, I know.) The good news is that any city that doesn’t elect to participate now can always reconsider in the future. If your city has already declined to join (or does so in the future), you can still pester them until they reconsider.

Note: While Orem was part of the founding group of the UIA, they haven’t taken an official vote on the matter yet. There will be a public hearing on Tuesday after which the Orem City Council will decide if they will join. They chose the new bond in a 6-0 vote last time around, but the UTA is holding their rally just before the meeting to try and pack the house with opponents and scare council members into reversing course. It’s very important that UTOPIA supporters turn out in force both at the rally and the meeting to thwart these efforts. I hear there’s going to be a fun surprise for the UTA during their BBQ, so show up and be prepared for a laugh at their expense.

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8 Responses to Utah Infrastructure Agency Moving Forward

  1. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    I will be their, We can show the UTA their type of unethical behavior towards Utopia and the Utopia city’s over the years will go unrewarded.

  2. Brian Haupt says:

    I would love to help out; let me know what I can do.

  3. Jesse says:

    The best thing you can do is be at Orem’s city council meeting tonight to show your support. The UTA is trying to pack the house; we can do it better,

  4. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    Wow Jesse, you are getting famous enough for news papers to take your comments out of context. Nice to see you are causing problems for UTA.

    I hear UTA’s little “protest” had poor attendance. I would like to think I helped with that.

  5. Tod Robbins says:

    I know this is long past due, but since I’m researching municipally-owned fiber infrastructure I thought I’d ask anyway: What were UTA’s reasons for fighting the UIA? I used to live in Provo and they were fighting our Provo Bicycle Committee on including bicycle lanes with their BRT project on University Avenue. Anyhow, any info would be appreciated!

  6. Jesse says:

    The UTA tried to characterize the UIA as a “no strings attached” bailout because no matter what the actual tax impact, they are always going to oppose UTOPIA and municipal telecom systems. (You’ll note, though, that they don’t have a thing to say about SFCN in Spanish Fork and how it bring a cool $500K/year to the city’s budget.) The only reasoning I can think of is that the UTA opposes UTOPIA on ideological grounds (in which case the actual tax impact is only an issue for them if it’s bad news) and/or they are simply acting as a sock puppet intermediary for donors Qwest and Comcast.

    • Tuanis Che says:

      I have been doing some research on UTOPIA and it seems you have a standard answer. Qwest and Comcast are the reason UTA opposes UTOPIA, yet I have yet to see you post anything that substantiates that claim. Its the ol liberal trick of saying someone is a racist or flat earther. It might seem logical that because there is an association between the two, but have you ever looked into it? Also, you might want to look at the connections between the local city mayors and councils being in with UTOPIA. Why are they picking the winners? Comcast and Qwest do just fine without being subsidized with the tune of half a billion dollars. If there is already a service provided then there is no need for the govt. to be involved. Why don’t you defend that side. Why not defend capitalism since it has proven itself over and over again. There is no doubt we all want faster internet but is it something that we want our local govt to control? FYI, there will be a new push in the next coming years to make HS internet a service like water for low income. Then the households that are low income will have to be subsidized by you and I so that they can have free UTOPIA. All the while I still cant get it in my home!

      • Jesse says:

        If you want to know if Qwest and Comcast are UTA members, ask UTA. They readily answer in the affirmative. If you ask how much they contribute or how much influence they have over the organization’s positions, you’ll get no answers. (Seriously, go do it. A lot of people on the fence become pro-UTOPIA after that little exchange.)

        The claim that Qwest and Comcast operate without subsidies is laughable at best. Between the Universal Service Fund, build-out requirements too high for new market entrants to meet, and exclusivity in municipal franchise agreements, telecom is one of the most rent-seeking sectors out there. Heck, the Telco Act of ’96 alone enriched telecom to the tune of $300B. Qwest has received far more money in subsidies than UTOPIA ever likely is to, yet we have very little to show for it. In Boston, Comcast has abused their monopoly to raise rates over 80% in three years because there is no competition, nobody will finance competition, and they will regularly quash any competition that may come along with new regulations as they have for over a century. That kind of crony capitalism has no place in a free market, yet here you are defending it?

        Yes, I like capitalism and I like free markets. Comcast and Qwest are neither, having used the coercive power of government to privatize profits and socialize losses. Are there solutions other than UTOPIA? Maybe, but it seems like both the most plausible and least painful way to correct these severe market imbalances.

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