UTOPIA Rebonding: Midvale, Lindon, Tremonton, West Valley All Say Yea

The news is out: four of the seven cities approved the new UTOPIA bonds at city council meetings last night while 3 city councils opted to delay their decision. Orem will meet again on May 2 to further discuss the matter and Centerville delayed their final decision until April 29. While Payson has been reported as rejecting the bond, their vote was 4-1 in favor of not voting on it last night. An official from Midvale says that Payson plans to discuss the matter again on May 2, though it may not be a public meeting. Here's the tally so far:

  • Centerville: Tabled until April 29
  • Lindon: Voted in favor
  • Midvale: Voted in favor
  • Orem: Tabled until May 2
  • Payson: Tabled until May 2
  • Tremonton: Voted in favor
  • West Valley City: Voted in favor

UPDATE (4/23/2008 11:32AM) : Here's some more coverage from the Daily Herald.

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One Response to UTOPIA Rebonding: Midvale, Lindon, Tremonton, West Valley All Say Yea

  1. Todd says:

    I attended the Lindon City Council meeting. The vote was 3-1 in favor of the proposed refinancing.

    The meeting lasted 3 hours, and there was much discussion by the City Council and citizens. UTOPIA was represented by Roger Black and another man Evan? who stated they were not currently involved with UTOPIA, but were there as volunteers.

    The Council had many questions, and to be honest, the UTOPIA representatives were not able to provide as much information as the council or the public would have liked. All were skeptical that customers would be willing to pay a $1500 connection fee when their competitors are not charging anywhere near that amount.

    I sat next to a woman who asked if I was from Qwest. I replied I was just a citizen. She later found another citizen who was a Qwest employeee (apparently she was looking for him), and handed him a form with Qwest talking points, and asked him to use it during the public comment period.

    During the comment period, this employee stated that he saw no need for anything beyond the 1.5 mbs that Qwest provides — “nobody really needs more than that”. The woman also spoke, and identified herself as a Qwest representative from Salt Lake City. She read from a prepared statement, and passed out copies of editorials from the Salt Lake Tribune and other papers which were against UTOPIA. The council then asked her several pointed questions, and it was obvious they were not pleased with her comments.

    I then spoke and told the council of my own horrible experiences with Qwest and Comcast. I stated that I was a UTOPIA customer, and very pleased with the service. I want UTOPIA to succeed for many reasons, but primarily so that we have true competition. The proposals that Qwest was now making for Fiber to the Node would never have happened if UTOPIA was not available. That said, I was also very skeptical about the marketing plan that UTOPIA was proposing. It is doubtful I would have paid $1500 to hook up, and I understand the benefits of the network. Average users, who don’t understand all that UTOPIA offers, are even less likely to pay such a fee.

    During the citizen comment portion, there were many citizens were who were in favor of UTOPIA, and some who were not. All agreed that UTOPIA needs to rework their marketing plan and the connection fee.

    Larry Ellison, Utah County Commissioner and former Lindon City Mayor was present. In his comments he said that he was going to “try and control his temper”. He reminded the council that 4 years ago, when Lindon agreed to support UTOPIA, it was because citizens were crying out for better service. Lindon offered to pay Qwest to provide better service, but Qwest refused to provide the service. Now that UTOPIA is available, Qwest and others are stepping forward.

    Bruce Carpenter, one of the City Council members, commented that in his opinion, the other players are deeply discounting the services in an effort to force UTOPIA to fail. While he had many concerns about how the UTOPIA executive committee is interacting with member cities, and needs to be more proactive in seeking their input before making decisions, he felt like UTOPIA has enough value that it warranted some subsidy by the city if it came to that.

    All City Council members were unhappy that they were forced to make a decision in “crisis mode”, with inadequate information on UTOPIA’s marketing plans. They debated whether to postpone a vote, but in the end, decided that they did not want to create any kind of “domino effect” on other cities by not voting.

    I am glad that the city voted in favor of the proposal, but I think that UTOPIA really needs to reexamine how they are going to move forward. I want UTOPIA to succeed, but I don’t think their plan to charge an exorbitant hookup fee is going to fly.

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