Canton, Ohio, Passes Resolution to Explore Broadband Utility
Canton's resolution expressed the desire for a municipal broadband infrastructure to be built in order to attract businesses to the area and better serve its residents.
(TNS) -- City officials want to offer high-speed, widely available, affordable internet as a utility to help attract and retain businesses.
They expressed their support for broadband infrastructure Monday, when Canton City Council adopted an informal resolution to explore a regional effort to develop such a network.
Both the Stark County commissioners and the Jackson Township trustees have approved similar resolutions.
Canton's resolution says the Stark County Broadband Task Team — an organization that's worked for years to bring a broadband system here — said the utility could lure technology-driven companies that would hire young professionals and burgeoning businesses that need quick and reliable internet.
Marc Schneider, who co-chairs the team, spoke at Monday's meeting about the "transformational ability" of broadband. He said for a robust economy, Stark County needs more people in the 20-to-35 age range. He also mentioned the $100,000 the team had raised to hire a consulting firm to conduct a countywide feasibility study.
The team's website advocates for high-speed internet as a utility to add value to buildings and available land. The volunteer team includes representatives from the government, business, educational and nonprofit sectors.
Monday's council agenda also included:
- A request for legislation to formally adopt the downtown master plan for the city, authored by the same consultants who wrote the city's comprehensive plan. The downtown master plan, completed in 2013, recommends improving the corridors that lead to downtown, defining downtown's boundaries and redeveloping Market Square to be a focal point. The comprehensive plan suggests investment in downtown Canton and recommends implementing the downtown plan in full. The Canton City Planning Commission voted this month to recommend adoption of the downtown plan.
- A first reading of an ordinance that would allow the city's law department to contract with a collections agency. The city usually certifies the unpaid amount to the county auditor's office, which a memo attached to the legislation categorizes as a "relatively ineffective" method. Officials from the law department and the mayor's office are in conversations with debt collections firms.
- A first reading of an ordinance that would allow the city to advertise and receive bids for a resurfacing project on 30th Street NW from Cleveland to Market avenues. The project is expected to cost about $1.6 million and will include base repairs and repaving. Work is expected to begin in August.
- A vote to hire a facilities engineer for the water department and, after a move by Councilman Kevin Fisher, D-5, and Majority Leader Frank Morris, D-9, a separate vote to increase salaries starting next year for some engineering and water jobs. Both votes passed, with Fisher and Morris voting against the raises.
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