Government Technology: Rural Minnesota County Built a Fiber Network, but Now Taxpayers Face Huge Bills

EXCERPT: “When the Lake County Board of Commissioners voted last week to approve a $3.5 million purchase agreement for Lake Connections, the county’s municipal broadband Internet project, there were some gasps that the federal government and taxpayers could lose up to $45 million in the deal. Pinpoint Holdings in Lincoln, Neb., submitted the bid for the network, which will serve as the minimum purchase price for Lake Connections in an auction-style sale to be conducted over the next few months. However, $45 million spread over the entire nation could be just the beginning of the pain for local taxpayers. According to the county’s 2016 financial statement prepared by the Minnesota Auditor’s Office — the latest statement available — the county’s broadband enterprise fund owes more than $14.3 million to the general fund and $3.3 million to the Health and Human Services fund. In addition, the county bonded for $7.24 million in April to settle its debts with Rohl Networks and MP Nexlevel, the two main contractors on the Lake Connections project. The 15-year bond’s 3.17 percent interest rate means the county will owe an additional $2 million in interest and will owe an average annual payment of $610,000 — roughly the same amount the county has dedicated to supporting the broadband network over the past few years.” FULLSTORY: