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Davis Journal

City moves forward with Bountiful Fiber

Jul 28, 2023 10:00AM ● By Becky Ginos
Graphic/Courtesy Bountiful City Facebook

Graphic/Courtesy Bountiful City Facebook

BOUNTIFUL—It’s official. After years of study, debate and public opinion, Bountiful is going to get fiber. Construction is anticipated to begin in August. In spite of an effort by the Utah Taxpayers Association to gather signatures and force the issue onto the ballot, ultimately they were not able to get enough to go forward with the petition.

“Bountiful is a unique city,” said Mayor Kendalyn Harris. “Our residents started this process. They organized a ‘Fiber for Bountiful' campaign that led to a thorough consideration of many options. We now look forward to offering a vital service to residents and businesses in an increasingly digital world.”

“Bountiful has partnered with UTOPIA fiber to install and operate the open-access network,” a statement from the city said. “The city will issue approximately $43 million in revenue bonds to finance the project. Subscriber revenue will cover the cost of the service. Participation in Bountiful Fiber is voluntary.”

Throughout the process, the city has held several open houses to provide information to the public and to answer questions. The last open house was held July 11 prior to the regular city council meeting.

“The point by me that was made in the open house was that in order to break even we need a 35% take rate,” said City Manager Gary Hill at the regular council meeting. “That’s not that only 35% will sign up, we actually expect much higher take rates. But that was a minimum number of take rates to break even and as I mentioned in the open house that based on the data given to us by UTOPIA and the take rates we’ve seen in other communities we’re very comfortable with that assumption.”

If take rates do not exceed 35% then yes there will be a general fund requirement to help pay for the debt service, he said. “But once those rates are exceeded then we can pay back the general fund.”

Is this a risk free operation? Of course not, said Hill. “I don’t think the landfill was, I don’t think the power utility was, we know the Town Square wasn’t. We’ve tried to be open about the risk but I suppose it would take someone who has attended all the meetings to understand to what degree that was discussed with the city council.”

Hill said that since 2009 no bonding that has been done by UTOPIA for a city has required any tax dollars to be paid for. “Despite some of the skepticism by the council at the beginning of this process, we feel very comfortable that they are a reasonable and good partner and that we can achieve the take rates necessary.”

“I believe deeply that we owe you (the public) an accounting of how we conduct ourselves in your name and how we use your assets,” said Councilmember Kate Bradshaw at the meeting. “I remain incredibly grateful for those who thoughtfully provided for the municipal power system, for landfills, for recycling, parks, and trails so we can continue to enjoy them.”

Bradshaw said this won’t be the last big debate there will be in the community. “There will be others. I appreciate how everyone has engaged in it tonight. Those of you who have continued questions or run into friends or neighbors who have questions, I hope you will point them to sources where they can find accurate information.”

Construction will begin in the northeast corner of the city.