Avon mayor: Vote ‘yes’ on 2B to allow town authority to provide broadband services

Avon Ballot Question 2B asks town of Avon voters to authorize the town to have the authority to provide broadband services within the town. These services can be delivered through partnerships and/or coordination with service providers and would allow for both public service, as well as the possibility of service to residential and commercial subscribers. These broadband services include high-speed internet and cable television.

Without a “yes” vote, internet service at public facilities for public use is limited. Without a “yes” vote, the town is prohibited from working to bring telecommunications services to residential and commercial users. Broadband access is a treasured commodity and one that has become expected. The town’s ability to provide internet and/or cable service ensures that everyone can continue to have access and expanded access at Town Hall, the Main Street Mall and on our buses. It is important to note that no increase in taxes is associated with approval of 2B.

Understanding why this ballot question is being posed to the voters is important. In 2005, the Colorado legislature enacted Senate Bill 152, a bill restricting local governments from providing, partnering or contracting to provide broadband infrastructure or service unless authorized by voter approval.

This bill technically makes the provision of free internet in any governmentally owned property illegal, which includes the recreation center, Town Hall and library. This would also prohibit the implementation of free Wi-Fi service in the park or pedestrian mall area. Equally important is the fact that Senate Bill 152 does not allow the town to work directly or in partnerships to expand options for high-speed internet to our businesses and/or residences.

Passing Question 2B is a game-changer. Many communities around the state have already passed similar ballot initiatives in order to provide or partner in the provision of broadband services. In addition, other entities within Eagle County have a similar ballot question on the agenda, including Eagle County and the towns of Eagle, Vail, Minturn and Gypsum. The town of Red Cliff has already passed a measure exempting it from Senate Bill 152. As a result, the town of Red Cliff is finally getting much-needed broadband services.

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Voting “yes” on 2B will exempt Avon from Senate Bill 152. This exemption supports local choice and options. A “yes” vote also enables residents to make the best decisions based on the needs of our own community, without raising taxes. Support 2B and you support access to one of today’s most precious services, that of broadband.

Jennie Fancher

Mayor, town of Avon

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