Westport Island plans April 10 town meeting on broadband funding

Tue, 03/30/2021 - 8:00am

    Westport Island selectmen Monday night agreed to hold a 9 a.m. Saturday, April 10 town meeting at town hall for voters to consider a local match to a possible ConnectME grant to expand broadband access. If voters pass the proposal, plans call for the town’s broadband and cable committee to apply for the grant by ConnectME’s deadline April 12.

    According to a draft warrant article First Selectman George Richardson read aloud in the UberConference call meeting, the town would create a non-lapsing, broadband grant match account, transfer $42,834.46 from unappropriated surplus, and $19,816.54 voters approved last year for broadband costs, into the new account. That $62,651 would be the local match.

    The article also calls for tapping expected American Rescue Plan funds to repay surplus “to the extent allowed,” and authorizing selectmen to disburse funds from the broadband match account for project costs without another town meeting. “(This) authority (would) remain in force from year to year until rescinded by the town meeting,” the draft article states.

    According to it, about 205 unserved homes stand to gain broadband access via the grant. The committee has said if ConnectME awards the grant, Spectrum would cover $338,314 of the project; ConnectME, $225,542.

    Maine Municipal Association drafted the article, town officials said.