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.

Layton Mayor Curtis Takes Aim at the UTA

Apparently I’m not the only one sick of the Utah “Taxpayers” Association and their constant vuvuzela-like drone. Layton Mayor Steve Curtis is getting sick of their spiel too.

Mayor Steve Curtis said UTOPIA, and the cities involved in it, have been transparent. “There isn’t anything we are doing behind closed doors,” he said.

The association has been opposed to UTOPIA from the beginning, Curtis said. “And if there is a way and means to stir the public, they go about it,” he said.

Curtis said he also disagrees with the association’s assumption that the public pledges being made available to the project are on the rise.

This is the kind of elected official needed in UTOPIA cities, just like Mayor Winder of West Valley City. It’s about time that the cities started sticking up for themselves and their decisions against the telecom guns-for-hire representing themselves as some kind of public advocate. You’re on notice, UTA: we’re all pretty sick of your lies.

Special Note: The UTA is still a bunch of cowards. They never responded to my challenge to a debate and refuse to respond on their Twitter account. Royce Van Tassell will also abandon any discussion thread on FaceBook about UTOPIA once I jump on. What a bunch of wusses.

FUD Alert: Utah Taxpayers Association Continues to Bend and Cherry-Pick the Truth

It shouldn’t be any surprise that the Utah “Taxpayers” Association can’t quite bring themselves to stick to facts, instead resorting to the time-tested tools of fear, uncertainty, and doubt to prop up their weak cases. In the July newsletter, the UTA decides once again to lay into UTOPIA and directly address some of my points on defining UTOPIA’s success. Unsurprisingly, they very much missed the mark yet again.

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Egg on MY Face: UTOPIA is likely to ask for pledges after all

A month ago, I laid into the UTA and Rep. Craig Frank for claiming that UTOPIA could call bond payments this year. As far as I knew, the financing plan would not allow for UTOPIA to call any pledges until next year when the first payment came due. Now it looks like I’m the red-faced one as UTOPIA has confirmed that it plans to ask cities to chip in this year.

Apparently UTOPIA was only able to secure a variable-rate bond as part of the refinancing deal and was unable to convert it into a fixed-rate one. That’s not surprising given that credit markets were running a bit dry, but it is unexpected since that little detail never seemed to come up. Barring a sudden large increase in subscriber revenue, this has left UTOPIA short anywhere from $50K to $300K a month because of increased interest rates. The article didn’t reveal if that is the only shortfall in bond payments or not, but they are covering operating costs.

I’m especially upset because UTOPIA didn’t tell me that I was wrong after I published my lambasting. And I ended up finding out this morning by reading the article in the DesNews instead of getting any kind of head’s up. The lack of information available to the public is bad enough, but leaving your loudest supporters hanging out to dry just won’t fly.