Broadband internet in Park County
I believe the county needs to, as frugally as possible use grants with no future unfunded liabilities to fund good communications for essential county facilities and services: county emergency services, reliable communication, schools and education facilities, libraries and other county citizen services and assistance. I think this need has been filled with a few exceptions that are being resolved with established contracts.
Rural Utilities Service, (RUS), a Federal program of the USDA has up to $200,000,000 allocated for grants across the country to be targeted for expanding fixed terrestrial broadband to areas with less than 20,000 inhabitants. Park County qualifies for this program since the county has less than 20,000 inhabitants. This grant requires a 25% match by a separate entity, which if I am commissioner would be a third party business entity who is serious and willing to spend their 25% match first before the federal grant funds are made available. Park County has benefited already from this project to establish communication to education and county facilities. If that grant or other grants can further fund broadband expansion, with an interested third party, so communities and the private sector can expand service to homes and businesses, I fully support the project at no cost to the county. However, I do not believe it is the function of government to spend your money, in the form of taxes, to provide broadband/faster internet service to individual homes or businesses in the county.
People who chose to live in Park County should understand the challenges of living in a “frontier” area, the new definition for very rural Colorado. People should not expect to have all the luxuries of living in an urban area. Satellite internet is not always optimal (I know from personal and ongoing experience) but it serves the need and is an option for most individual homes in the county.
I will continue to educate myself on broadband and public/private sector options for future expansion at no cost to the county. The 2020 budget lists a $200,000 contractual expense for Broadband in 2020. I plan to learn more about this large line item expense. As commissioner, I will always work to reduce county expenses while funding the function of government.