Fiscal court approves first reading of telecommunications franchise

Posted November 22, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Clinton County Fiscal Court, on a split vote with one magistrate absent, approved first reading of an ordinance creating a telecommunications franchise for rights-of-way in the county. The action took place at the court’s regular meeting last Thursday evening, November 16.

The ordinance will not be final until it passes a second reading by the fiscal court.

Last month, representatives from Duo County Telecommunications out of Jamestown, Kentucky requested the county create such a franchise, which will now be bid out as the next step in the process.

After some discussion in October, the court opted to delay action on the request so they could research the matter further.

Judge/Executive Richard Armstrong opened discussion on the issue last week saying he felt the high speed fiber optic internet system in parts of the county where the line would run would be a “plus for our county” and would help grow economic development. He also added it would simply be an option for residents who would be able to access the service.

Since the agreement is “non-exclusive,” customers would not be mandated in any way to use it even if it is available to them.

A representative with Duo County Telecom explained the process and steps necessary to approve the franchise and have it put in place, with county attorney Michael Rains also noting it had to be done via ordinance, which requires to readings. The franchise will also have to be let for bids.

Recently, the City of Albany approved the franchise agreement for a 20 year period, the same as which the county will have if the agreement passes on second reading..

Following some discussion, Magistrate Terry Buster made the motion to approve first reading of “an ordinance relating to the creation of a non-exclusive franchise to use the public rights of way of Clinton County for the operation and maintenance of a telecommunication system.”

When the issue came to a vote, magistrates Hershell Key and Johnny Russell also voted yes with magistrates Mickey Riddle and Ricky Craig voting no. Magistrate Patty Guinn was not present for the meeting.

Both Craig and Riddle, in noting they were not against the franchise itself, said they voted no because they felt the length of time (20 years) for the franchise was too long. There had been earlier discussion in possibly reducing the time period to 15 years.

The ordinance reads in part,

“…Clinton County is required to publicly bid any franchise that it awards.

“A non-exclusive franchise to use the public rights-of-way of Clinton County for the operation and maintenance of a telecommunications system is hereby created.

“The franchise created by this ordinance shall be bid in accordance with the requirement of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky….and, the franchise created by this ordinance shall be awarded to the best bidder as shall be determined by and within the sole discretion of the County. In awarding the franchise, the County shall consider the technical, managerial, and financial qualifications of the bidder to perform its obligations for the Franchise Agreement.”

The new system may be up and running in some areas of the city and county where the lines are available by the middle of 2018 and second reading of the ordinance establishing the telecommunication franchise is expected to be held next month.

On a motion by magistrate Craig, the court also voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting a grant application to help fund two new vehicles (trucks) for the sheriff’s department.

Emergency Management Director Lonnie Scott, in noting easements for tornado sirens have now been obtained, informed the court that the two new sirens the county was able to obtain with grant money, will be installed late this month.

In other business, the court acknowledged receiving the monthly treasurer’s report, voted to pay claims and bills and approved fund transfers.

Assistant administrator Penny Jo Stearns also reminded court members that the county was co-sponsors in the Christmas at Home food and toy drive that is now underway and asked them to donate food or toys to the drive, also noting a toy collection box is set up in the judge/executive’s office.

Prior to adjourning, magistrate Craig also requested a monthly recycling report be given to court members.

The next regular meeting of fiscal court is scheduled for Thursday, December 15 at 5 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse and is open to the general public.