Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Vote called on fiber-optic plan"—Advocate

Advocate coverage of the Lafayette City-Parish Council fiber-optic vote focused on the outcome: the bonds.

Pull quotes:
The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted Tuesday to call a July 16 election on the funding of the LUS plan to offer phone, cable and high-speed Internet services on a fiber-optics network run to homes and businesses in the city...

The proposition states the $125 million in bonds will be paid off by the revenue generated from the new communications division.

Should that money not be enough, the remainder of the obligation would be paid by a "secondary or subordinate" pledge of the revenue of the overall utilities, the bond proposition said...

Using the words "secondary or subordinate" pledge was intended to convey that all other LUS obligations would first have to be met...

That previous document detailed that only "excess revenue" would be used for such purposes, and went through the list of all other utilities obligations that would have to be paid first, including the sizeable in-lieu-of-tax payment LUS makes to the city each year.

The point of going through this is to assure folks that the chance of any blow-back to their favorite angst, be it rates or taxes or something else they don't want changed, is minimal. The bond holders will be last in line after all of LUS' local responsibilities.

There's risk of course, but it is small and distant--you have to go through some pretty fancy shenanigans to find a situation where a big fiscal hit is taken--and what risk there is is mainly to a hope for future reductions in rates. As the city has said, it's a lot easier to find credible scenarios where the fiber optic system makes money and relieves the pressure on the city to turn to taxation instead of direct fees for service to fund necessary city services. That's exactly what is happening with the current city utilities; they function to save the citizens money that would otherwise be taken from them in the form of taxes.

The story closes with a few words of wisdom Kaliste Saloom:

"Bold vision is the exclusive mark of a progressive community and Lafayette is such a community," Saloom said. "The future of Lafayette cannot be left in the hands of distant board rooms."

Saloom said he expects the election will feature heavy advertising from the two private companies, BellSouth and Cox Communications, which have already spoken out against the LUS plan.

Indeed. And my guess is that we'll get not a few ads developed on top of the little trolling expedition through LUS' records that Lawsuit #1 is meant to enable.

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