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Vote yes on broadband utility

Better internet service with local control is possible

Fort Dodge voters fed up with balky internet connections have a chance to do something about it on Tuesday.

On their general election ballots they will find a referendum question asking them if their city government should have the power to establish a municipal broadband utility.

We strongly encourage everyone to vote yes.

Voting yes will create possibilities for faster internet speeds and better customer service. Why would anyone want to throw away those possibilities by voting no?

A yes vote doesn’t automatically mean the city will go into the broadband business. But a yes vote allows local leaders, not executives in some distant city, to begin looking at ways to improve service for Fort Dodge residents.

Extending fiber optic cables to each home and business in the city that wants the service has been mentioned in every discussion so far about what a municipal broadband utility could offer. That’s state of the art technology that apparently no one is offering in Fort Dodge right now.

One thing must be made clear. Despite what opponents of the ballot measure, including Mediacom, have been saying, no tax dollars will be put at risk if the city does set up a utility. That utility would be financed by revenue it creates through fees for service. Property tax revenue and local option sales tax income would not be impacted.

There are those in our community who will argue that the city would not be able to keep a broadband utility in a good state of repair. Someone is sure to gripe that the city doesn’t keep up the infrastructure that already exists. While it’s true that the city’s infrastructure was allowed to crumble for decades, times have changed. In about a decade, remarkable progress has been in fixing the sanitary and storm sewer systems. Basement flooding and overflowing manholes that occurred with every major and even moderate rain storm are now a rarity. And literally tons of new concrete and asphalt are being applied to city streets every year. So today there’s reason to believe a potential new utility would be properly cared for by skilled personnel.

Fort Dodge residents have much to gain and nothing to lose by allowing their city government to look into the possibility of a broadband utility. Therefore, we urge everyone to vote yes.