BULLHEAD CITY — City Council members on Tuesday approved a resolution to show support for Mohave Electric Cooperative’s effort to establish broadband service in the city and surrounding area.
MEC conducted a survey of customers this spring in which 95% of the respondents said they would want to use such a service.
The utility cooperative would pursue grants to pay for the infrastructure associated with establishing the service. It also would partner with an internet provider to deliver and operate the service.
City Manager Toby Cotter told council members that broadband connectivity is needed to keep up with the growing need to provide more service to the community.
More customers to serve will be one reason for the need. Another is increased reliance on internet-based products, such as television, telephone, and training and education programs that require strong, fast connections, said Cotter and Zenon Mocarski, an MEC spokesman who was on hand to answer questions.
“Only half of the people in the community have land lines,” Cotter said about current phone usage.
And what additional functions will rely on broadband a decade from now?
“Who knows?” Cotter asked rhetorically.
Suddenlink, Frontier and some smaller providers offer internet service locally.
The high interest in the idea based on survey responses to MEC “says something about the providers we have now,” said Mayor Tom Brady, who added that he receives many complaints about the major local internet service providers.
Mocarski noted that the MEC plans to provide 100% coverage to its service area, which means it won’t be available for some time.
The time period “might also encourage other providers to be more responsive,” Brady added.
In another resolution, council members opted to support MEC and other co-op utility providers seeking passage of the RURAL Act, which would change the 2017 federal tax law edict that cooperatives pay taxes on grants used for not only rural broadband development but economic development, disaster relief aid and renewable energy and efficiency projects.
Having to pay those additional taxes would result in higher rates for MEC and other co-op utility customers.
A debate between a proponent and an opponent of Proposition 415 will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Bullhead City-Mohave Valley Association of Realtors Conference Center, 841 Hancock Road.
Shawn Bradford of EPCOR Water Arizona will speak against Proposition 415; David Lords, a local developer and member of the H2O Committee, will speak in favor of it.
The event is sponsored by the H20 Committee of Bullhead City.
Cotter and City Clerk Sue Stein reminded local voters that they should have received the Proposition 415 ballot through the mail by now. People who haven’t will need to contact Mohave County elections officials to find out why and make other inquiries because the county is running the election, not the city.
Residents were reminded that ballot harvesting is against state law and is considered a sixth-degree felony. This practice by groups seeking to make an election go in their favor uses lists of early or absentee voters to create door-to-door routes for collecting ballots. They tell the voters they are calling on that their ballot will be delivered to elections officials.
Around the country, it has been a way for groups seeking to control the results potentially to steal or alter ballots before turning them in. It also has been used to intimidate voters through their front doors.
Only the voter, family members or caregivers can deliver a voter’s ballot in Arizona.
Proposition 415 is a mail-in election. The county recommends the ballot be mailed to the elections office six or seven days before the deadline of Nov. 5 to ensure it arrives on time.
The Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library will serve as a drop-off site for ballots during operating hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 5. Voters also can obtain a replacement ballot or vote by provisional ballot.
Grant for VTC
The Veterans Treatment Court will receive a $500,000 grant from the federal government that will be used to enhance its operations.
The Bullhead City court began taking cases in early 2017 and is considered a problem-solving court for military veterans dealing with addiction, serious mental illness and recurring disorders, who end up in the general court system.
This alternative court coordinates with prosecuting and defense counsel, county attorney, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local mental health organizations, to keep struggling veterans from ending up in jail or prison. They receive assistance but also must be willing to make efforts to stay out of trouble.
Judge Peter Psareas, who runs the court here, is expected to talk about how the money will be spent at an upcoming council meeting, Cotter said.
Thousands of veterans reside in the city.
In other business, council members:
- Approved a resolution supporting the Arizona Peace Trail and its passing through the city. Cotter told council members that the trail plan fits in with the city’s interest in highlighting sports and active tourism.
- Heard from resident Jamie Starr, who asked council members to consider banning smoking in local parks. Starr cited examples of people smoking next to the municipal pool, splash pads and various sports courts at Ken Fovargue Park, locations frequented by children, to make her point.
- Granted Riverfront Terraces, Inc., two more years to request permits for two mixed-use projects in Petersen’s Acres.
- Proclaimed Oct. 23 as “Walk Away from Drugs Day.”