City Council Meeting - 3.28

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The meeting began at 6 PM with Council members Garvey, Stokes, and McCain present. Mayor Sykes moved up one of the agenda items due to the presenters’ travel considerations.

The Fiber Optic project is underway and the issues that were brought up in previous meetings of cost to cover operations costs were answered by the consultant Patterson. The construction budget is initially covering the costs of the construction salaries as well as starting the administration operations salary. As the maintenance fees increase through new builds when neighborhoods get connected the base of the maintenance costs will in volume grow and support the fiber optic project regularly as a utility, like sewer or water. Any cost or operational changes will be subject to a vote, judicial requirements, and the public hearing process.

That is how it was set up with the City of Ammon and how it will be set up here in Mountain Home. Another one of the major questions was using ARPA funds to subsidize the operational cost difference, but as the model has shown so far in Ammon, this won’t be necessary and can be held for capital reserves. By Idaho state law each entity must stand on its own, regardless of funding and the fiber optic project has a model to follow. There has been on average a 60-65% adoption rate, the average in a competitive market is 30% due to existing contracts and termination charges in their current contracts. Most telecom contracts are now month to month. The fiber optic utility will be managed by the City Council, so the consumer will never be subjected to unjustified rate increases and in this process, the public will have a say. Stokes said “70% adoption rate gives me trepidations” As Mountain Home grows so will the volume and the path of this being self-supporting is established, without subsidies. (Through the Ammon model) The pilot houses have seen bandwidth speeds of 700MB symmetrical. (same speed up and down) City parks and government offices are on this network currently. The County has the same plans for rural users. Patterson answered the question, “How can you attain more opt-ins initially? The answer was simple, “Deliver on the first project” then it can be duplicated. The initial estimate for the first project is 672 homes connected. The connection fee can be paid all at once or broken out over several years of term tied to the property as a utility.

The department head updates started with Chief Moore of the Fire Department, other than administrative meetings they have been doing wildland fire training for the upcoming summer fire season. Public works have been busy planning and paving the roads and digging wells. Parks and Rec said “watch out for snakes” at the parks and to keep our eyes open. The soccer program “Summer Soccer” is getting busy with signups. The library will have a “Grimms Escape Room” based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Adult craft night, Beverly Cleary’s birthday and Internet safety classes, and a purple dance party to celebrate the month of Military Child are all on the schedule in April. Chief Connor said that he is bringing on new officers and there are some of the older ones moving on and out. There have been new bids happening with the airport and they are applying for a defense grant with the DOD (Department of Defense) Love’s Truckstop has pulled out due to ITD Improvement requirements, after the city permit fees and county tax concessions were approved.

The audits for the last year have been completed, here is where the City stands financially The purpose of this audit was to be in accord with state and national financial and accounting standards. Assets are 72M, 50M in fixed assets, 6M in cash, 24.6M in Net revenue, 1.8M in grants, and 400K in revenue share. Over the last year, short-term and long-term debts have been paid down resulting in an $18.3M increase in revenue over the previous year.

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