letter to the editor

Southport broadband debate continues

Mon, 06/06/2022 - 3:45pm

Dear Editor:

As most of your readers know, the Island of Southport is in heavy debate regarding the spending of $2.1 million on an unneeded municipal fiber optic utility. Yes, it’s true that we have approx 20 families not currently being served by internet providers, but, is it worth committing the town to $2.1 million when there seem to be more feasible ways to correct this problem at a fraction of the cost?

Having served on our town’s Budget Committee for 24 years, it is clear to me that questions need to be asked regarding the financial feasibility and transparency of Southport’s municipally-owned fiber optic utility. In preparation for the last informational meeting scheduled on 6/22, the residents deserve answers from the select board to key questions surrounding the project.

First: Is the Town willing to have an independent budget review on this capital investment showing financing details, income and expenses resulting in an unbiased feasibility report of owning an internet utility?

Secondly: Part 1 - I believe that the taxpayers are entitled to Axiom’s actual budget report which verifies their 320 tax neutral subscription number.

Part 2 - In addition, the town should provide a report detailing all of the project’s expenditures paid to date, to whom and $$’s paid.

Lastly: “If” the 6/28/22 voters should choose to continue with this town owned internet utility, I would suggest that the town set up a separate corporation with it’s own accounting system. This would be essential in keeping track of this capital investment’s assets, liabilities, income and expenses while not mixing internet utility funds in with the town funds. Accountability and transparency is absolutely necessary.

In March, myself and two other Southport residents raised our concerns about several issues, and evidently 144 residents agreed by signing a petition. The last informational meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 6/22/22 – so please, come and ask your questions.

Voting will take place June 28. No matter what your position is on Southport owning its own fiber optic utility, please get out to vote! This issue is far too important to think your vote doesn’t matter – it certainly does.

Celeste Brown