Public hearings set for Federated Telephone broadband expansion

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When Swift County agreed to aid Federated Telephone Company with the expansion of broadband services to the eastern half of the county, it committed to bonding for $7.5 million.

Overall, the project is expected to cost $12.5 million with a $4.95 million state Border-to-Border Broadband Grant covering part of the cost of the project, which is to start in the coming monthsl

The proposed tax abatement bond sale will actually be for $7.785 million, Swift County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver told the board of commissioners at their meeting March 15. The additional $285,000 is for the cost of issuing the bonds.

While the county will be conducting the bond sale, Federated Telephone has agreed to make the payments to retire the debt. The county and Federated Telephone are negotiating on how much of the bond sale costs will be covered by the county and how much by the company.

To proceed with the sale, the county has to conduct two public hearings. The first public hearing is on granting a business subsidy to Federated Telephone Cooperative, Pogge-Weaver said. “Whenever the county enters into a subsidy beyond a certain dollar amount, it has to do a public hearing,” he explained.

The second public hearing would be for the creation of a tax abatement district.  “That is kind of a misnomer,” Pogge-Weaver said of the district’s creation. “We are not really abating anyone’s taxes. It is just the mechanism that allows us to use this bonding authority.” When the bonds are sold, the plan is to lend them to Federated Telephone for the broadband expansion project.

The public hearings have been set for 11 a.m., April 19, in the commissioners’ meeting room at the Swift County Courthouse. At that April 19 meeting, the county will also be presented with a loan agreement between it and Federated Telephone for the payments on the bond issue. Details of that agreement are being worked out now between Federated Telephone and the county’s bond counsel, Pogge-Weaver said.

 

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