North Florida Broadband Authority: Perry Pulls Out, City Manager tells Council, "It's just out of whack"
Posted April 11, 2012 08:12 am | Part XVIII
City of Perry Mayor, Emily Weed Ketring listens to City Manager Bob Brown talk about the NFBA.
TAYLOR COUNTY, FL – The North Florida Broadband Authority suffered another casualty when at 6:10pm last night, the City of Perry pulled out of the NFBA. City Manager Bob Brown has been briefing the City Council for sometime regarding the goings on at the NFBA. It took the Perry City Council three minutes to unanimously decide to leave the NFBA behind.
Perry has it together
A walk in the historic downtown of Perry reveals a downtown that is clean, renovated, has a variety of shops and is safe. Perry, the county seat of Taylor County, represents the work of a City Council that cares about its City and clearly pays attention.
Mayor Ketring calls the item
At 6:10pm last night, Mayor Emily Weed Ketring called agenda item 5f: City Council to discuss City's membership in the North Florida Broadband Authority and to consider a resolution.
City Manager Bob Brown began the discussion:
"We joined the Broadband Authority in 2010. It was part of the stimulus and it was supposed to bring broadband Internet to underserved areas... I think originally its intent was even sold as possibly being free Internet access... Today 100% of the City has broadband access from multiple providers. We have both landline and wireless providers in the City."
Mayor Ketring added: We have satellite, too.
It's just out of whack
City Manager Brown continued:
... The Broadband Authority has spent about $10 million or more – they don't have anything up to serve one customer, anywhere. They had their funding suspended last year because of issues.
They are kind of a dysfunctional organization. They pay a lot of high salaries. For example, their executive director makes $150,000 a year and is asking for some enhancements to that.
If you look at what the County Managers and others make, they are running larger budgets on an annual basis to what their $30 million is over their life.
You know -- it's just out of whack.
Mayor Ketring asked, "Where is the executive director located?
City Manager Brown: They are in Lake City. They were supposed to create jobs -- to the best of my knowledge there have been no local jobs created. They told me at one time they would rather build a tower and pay the engineering fee, rather than to put an antenna on our water tower. They've got a $750,000 loan from a bank.
Mayor Ketring: For what?
City Manager Brown answered, "Who knows."
Then CM Brown continued, "But anyway, they're kind of not relevant anymore – here... there are a lot of questions about how they are being operated.
Councilman Gunter heard enough
City Councilman Daryll Gunter appeared to have heard enough. He asked, "Have we spent any money with them?"
CM Brown answered, "No, we haven't spent any money."
City Councilman Gunter wasted no time, "Motion to withdraw... Motion to approve the resolution to withdraw."
The City Clerk polled the Council. The vote was unanimous. The City of Perry was out of the NFBA.
The former Economic Development Director of Taylor County, Rick Breer, had strong ties with the North Florida Economic Development Partnership and Jeff Hendry, the group that pushed for the Obama Stimulus Broadband Grant and pounded the pavement to induce various North Central Florida Cities and Counties to sign on.
City Manager Brown explained the NFBA push this way, "The way it was originally sold, there would be free Internet access -- it's not going to cost us anything."
For the City of Perry, as well as Bradford County, it appears free wasn't good enough, as they stood up for values that are fading from America.