County to sell $7.8 million in GO bonds for broadband

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Swift County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of $7,805,000 of taxable general obligation tax abatement bonds at their April 5 meeting to finance broadband expansion in the eastern half of the county.

The motion simply set the terms of the sale of the bonds and a deadline for making a bid of 10:30 a.m., May 2. Action to award the bonds is scheduled to take place at the county board’s May 3 meeting.

Commissioners also voted to retain Northland Securities, Inc., of Minneapolis, as its financial adviser for the bond sale at the cost of $22,000.

While Swift County selling the bonds and its taxpayers will be backing them up, Federated Telephone Company will be making the payments over the next 20 years to retire the debt.

Last year, Swift County agreed to support Federated Telephone’s expansion of broadband services to the eastern half of the county by committing to $7.5 million in bonding for the $12.5 million project.

The additional $285,000 above that commitment is for the cost of issuing the bonds. Federated Telephone and the county continue to negotiate on how much of the bond sale costs will be covered by the county and how much by the company.

Swift County and Federated did receive a $4.95 million state Border-to-Border Broadband Grant late last year covering 40 percent of the project costs. Work should begin on installing the fiber cable that will bring high-speed internet connections to those living in eastern Swift County.

Broadband internet service is considered essential for economic development efforts in rural areas. It provides the speed of service for large data transfers that businesses need to compete in today’s global marketplace. With high-speed broadband service, rural communities can compete for jobs with urban areas.

It is projected that Federated Telephone’s project will deliver high-speed Internet service to 600 households, 425 businesses and 75 community institutions.  The project affects 13 of the county’s 21 townships concentrated in areas just east of the Benson city limits. Much of western Swift County, including the City of Benson, already has broadband internet service.

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