Nasewaupee to Seek More Options for Broadband

There was standing room only in the Nasewaupee Town Hall on Monday night when town residents filled the main meeting room to hear about the town’s plans to provide broadband service throughout Nasewaupee.

The meeting was initially scheduled as a special town meeting for electors who reside in Nasewaupee to vote on whether to authorize issuing general obligation bonds not to exceed $5 million to fund the construction of a town-wide fiber-optic infrastructure for broadband.

John Kolodziej, who chairs the town’s Broadband Committee, informed those attending the meeting that the committee previously recommended a fiber-optic system from Bertram, but now wants to hold off going forward with that recommendation and get bids from other companies, which will likely result in a decision not being made until early next year.

He said the town hoped its cost would be around $4.8 million for Bertram to install a fiber-optic system estimated at $10 million. The remaining $5.2 million would be fulfilled with about $2.3 million from Bertram, $50,525 from the County of Door, and a grant of nearly $2.8 million for the town. 

But Kolodziej said the committee recently discovered that might not be the town’s least expensive option in light of what other companies are offering to other municipalities in the county.

“[The towns of Sevastopol and Sturgeon Bay and] the Brussels-Union-Gardner-Forestville group opened bids for their proposals and they’ve got extremely competitive numbers, largely by some providers who weren’t even in play when we were looking at partnering with Bertram,” he said.

Kolodziej said the companies that could give Nasewaupee “a really good competitive number” include Brightspeed and AT&T.

“AT&T gave extremely good proposals to the Town of Sevastopol and to the Town of Sturgeon Bay,” he said.

In contrast to Bertram burying all the fiber optic cables underground, Kolodziej said AT&T is able to use existing utility poles to provide broadband service.

Property tax impact

The Town of Sturgeon Bay held an informational meeting Sept. 18 at Crossroads at Big Creek regarding the possibility of providing town-wide broadband service through AT&T, with an installation cost for the town of around $2 million using a combination of existing poles and burying cables.

Based on the Town of Sturgeon Bay obtaining a state loan over 20 years at 5.75%, the amount borrowed would be repaid with an estimated property tax rate of 56 cents per $1,000.

In Nasewaupee, Kolodziej said borrowing $5 million at 5.75% over 20 years would be the “worst-case scenario” with a property tax rate of $1.08 per $1,000.

Should the town instead be able to install broadband by borrowing $3.5 million, he said a loan with the same interest rate and term would result in a property tax rate of around 75 cents per $1,000.

Kolodziej noted one of the meeting’s objectives included finding out what town residents are willing to pay for broadband service, but no vote was taken on how much those in attendance were willing to borrow.

Vote for More Options

When it came time for a vote from the town electors in attendance, a motion made by Bill Krueger to investigate additional options for broadband passed on a majority show of hands. 

Kolodziej said he hopes the town will have that information by later this year or early next year. He said one aim in the new round of bidding would be to lock in monthly internet rates for a certain period. 

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