Community leaders in Hudson, Ohio, are likely to ask voters this fall to approve bonding to expand their municipal fiber optic network, Velocity Broadband. At their last City Council meeting, the members heard the first of three readings for a resolution to propose bringing the question to voters.
Time for Residential Service?
The network currently offers high-quality connectivity to local businesses, but according to city spokesperson Jody Roberts, it’s time to take the infrastructure into residential neighborhoods, which was always part of Hudson’s vision. At the May 1st council meeting, Roberts also said that Velocity is now operating in the black, which means now is a good time to take gigabit connectivity to residents.
Hudson is like many other small cities, in that large national providers don’t see a justification for investing in fiber in non-urban residential areas. With a population of around 24,000, the community needs to remain competitive. Hudson began with fiber optic infrastructure to municipal facilities, which they built out incrementally over a period of about ten years. By 2015, they had started offering gigabit service to businesses, which have embraced the faster, more reliable service. By the fall of 2016, they were ready to issue an RFP for a feasibility study to examine a citywide Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.
Broadband access is now viewed as a necessary service, rather than a luxury. Like in increasing number of communities, Hudson’s proposal will ask the voters to fund the infrastructure with a slight increase in property taxes. Similar to projects in Lyndon Township and Sharon Township, both in Michigan, Hudson proposes to use a property tax levy to fund construction of the expansion. If the proposal goes to the voters and they approve it, property owners will be levied 2.7 mills, which will amount to approximately $8 per $100,000 of property tax valuation to pay off bonds to be issued for the cost of construction. City leaders estimate the plan to expand the network citywide will cost about $21 million.
Roberts used the example of a $300,000 home:
“So take a $300,000 home, you’re talking $24 a month [for the levy] and $30 for the service charge,” Roberts said. “That’s $54, and that’s usually less than what people are paying now.”
Plus, it would be 1 gigabit, something that most communities don’t even have access to, she said.
If the City Council decides to take the issue to the voters this fall and it passes, construction would begin in 2019. Velocity Broadband would likely be available to residents by 2021.
For more on Velocity Broadband, and the city’s approach to the service, check out Community Broadband Bits podcast, episode 181 from 2015. Christopher interviewed City Manager Jane Howington, who described how the network was already surpassing expectations.