By Sam Jack
CLEARWATER – At the Clearwater City Council meeting on July 28, the council received information on Cox Communications’ plans to bring fiberoptic broadband internet service to the city.
Megan Bottenberg, director of government affairs for Cox Communications Central Region, told the council that Cox will offer residential speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second for residential customers, and potentially even faster for businesses.
“What it really means is, it’s really fast speeds. It’s fast speeds for what we need right now, but most importantly, what we need in the future. Tonight, what we’re presenting to you is an investment that Cox is planning to make in your community for the long-term, and for the future,” Bottenberg said.
Cox is planning to lay 28.9 miles of fiber at a cost of $1.6 million, passing 991 homes. Bottenberg said the intent is to offer service to everyone within the city limits, and potentially to others in the surrounding area as well.
Under Kansas law, the city can charge a franchise fee of up to 5 percent, with proceeds going into the city’s general fund. The fee would be applied only to video services sold by Cox, not to general internet service subscriptions, and Cox would pass the cost onto customers’ bills.
The city currently charges SKT a franchise fee of $1 per service line. Council members were not sure what that worked out to in percentage terms and wanted to make sure that SKT and Cox would be on a level playing field. The franchise fee question was tabled in order to gather more information.
“Whatever our fee is on SKT, that’s what it should be with Cox. They should be on equal footing,” council member Tex Titterington said.
In other business:
• The council approved an alcohol permit for the Clearwater Booster Club’s annual barbecue in the park, Aug. 27 from 5 to 10 p.m.
• The council approved an agreement with Garver Professional Services. Garver will do engineering work on the Indian Ridge development. The city will use temporary general obligation bonds to pay Garver – a standard practice – and will be reimbursed later via special assessments.
• Mayor Burt Ussery appointed Ryan Karrick to finish John Graham’s term on the planning commission, 2020-2023, and nominated J.J. Riggins to serve on the board of zoning appeals, 2022-2025. The council unanimously approved both appointments.